Simple Truths (Alligator)

The Holmes Brothers 

Simple Truths (Alligator)

Wendell and Sherman Holmes and their soul brother Popsy Dixon have been making music longer than most of their fans have been alive. The group spent 25 years backing the likes of John Lee Hooker, Clyde McPhatter and Jerry Butler before its belated recording debut arrived in 1990. That experience has been evident on the Brothers' half-dozen releases since, but never more so than on Simple Truths, an early contender for one of 2004's best albums. Much of what's here has been evident in the group's efforts all along: the Holmes' three-part harmonies sound every bit as ragged as they do angelic, the grooves are as loose as they are in-the-pocket, and the choices in cover material remain nothing short of inspired. Simple Truths includes a version of "Shine" that scoots rather than lumbers, revealing that it was likely learned from Dolly Parton rather than from Collective Soul. The band also tackles "Hey! Baby," retaining the easygoing flow of Bruce Channel's 1962 chart-topper while supplying the soul it missed. The Brothers also reinvent "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" as pure blues-rock power trio, as they do with renditions of songs associated with everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Gillian Welch to Jim Reeves. What's unexpected this time around is that the originals are finally as good as the cover material. Wendell's "We Meet, We Part, We Remember" is precisely the sort of simple truth that only someone approaching 70 is likely to know, let alone embrace.

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