Holmes Brothers – Feed My Soul

January 01, 1970

(Alligator)

 

www.alligator.com

 

The Holmes Brothers are an American musical treasure and Feed My Soul is their masterpiece.
Singing together for over three decades, real life brothers Sherman and Wendell
Holmes and their close friend Popsy Dixon, all natives of Virginia who met as
musicians in New York City, are famous for their soaring three part harmonies
and their ability to cross and mix musical genres such as blues, country, gospel,
soul, and rock.

 

The word that best describes the Holmeses is “uplifting.”
Their sound is clearly born of the black southern church and choir, yet their
subject matter is secular. Even for listeners who are not particularly religious,
the Holmes can fill you with that “spirit” of foot stompin’ joy. They preach at
the universal church of music. Listening to them just makes you feel happy to
be alive, be it Sherman’s
rich baritone or Wendell’s gravelly voice or Popsy’s soaring falsettos. They
effortlessly trade vocal leads and their harmonies are out of this world. Sherman plays bass while
Wendell handles guitar and Popsy is the drummer. On Feed My Soul their long time friend Joan Osborn produces the album
and contributes her own beautiful voice on backup vocals.

 

Feed My Soul is
unique in that nine of the 14 tracks are originals. There is an underlining
sense of urgency and joy in this album. The album was inspired by the battle
waged by Wendell Holmes after he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. Always a
close knit group, Wendell’s crisis seemed to bring the group even closer. And
the result here is a powerful work about mortality, love and ultimate
redemption.

 

On “Fair Weather Friend” Wendell sings, “The doctor, he said
‘Cancer,’ I stopped in my tracks…Did you care if I perished, did you care if I
died? Was it a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye? No one would have thought
that you’d not past the test. No one would have guessed that you’d leave me in
this mess.” These are about as dark as lyrics can get, but the song is so
beautiful, so gospel-inspired, that you cannot help but feel moved and
uplifted. Life is hard and fragile but perhaps there is a higher power looking
after us. The song gets us to look up, not down. Wendell won his battle over
the disease.

 

But this is not a personal album. On the rollicking opening
track, “Dark Cloud”, Sherman
sings, “There is a dark cloud over our land, an ill wind in the sand… And when
our children start to die, and mothers ask you why. Won’t you tell me, tell me,
tell me, tell me where you stand?” The Holmes Brothers can sing songs of
protest that are fun and hopeful. But at the end of the day, it is those
incredible harmonies and vocals that linger. One of the covers is an
awe-inspiring take of “I’ll Be Back” by the Beatles. And the album concludes
with Popsy’s beautiful falsetto on the gospel-inspired, “Take Me Away.”

 

 Feed My Soul is a powerful album that resonates long after the
final track ends. And while they do not fit easily into any musical genre, The
Holmes Brothers are a blues band in the truest sense of the word. They write
about life in all its glory and pain. They acknowledge the darkness without
ever giving in to despair. And in this way, their sound never loses its hope,
its joy, its light. If you ever get a chance to see The Holmes Brothers play
live, take it. Besides having a great time, you will see an authentic American
musical treasure that will not be replaced or duplicated anytime soon.

 

Standout Tracks: “Fair
Weather Friend” “Dark Cloud” “Edge of the Ledge” “Take Me Away” TOM CALLAHAN 

 

 

 

 

 

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