Subterranean Finds: James Dunn, Greg Greenway, Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, Listing Ship
The Long Ride Home
Even the title boasts an air of familiarity, one that translates to the sound of the songs themselves. It breeds a connection that finds these muscular melodies recalling the angst-filled anthems of Bruce Springsteen as they might sound if sung by Jackson Browne. Indeed, there's a lot to like in the way Dunn applies driving determination to themes that troll the divide between love and loss. A line like, "The ghost of love lost comes to your door, reminding you of how things are not anymore" carries an emotional weight that resonates within the context of Dunn's compelling delivery. Ultimately The Long Ride Home unfolds as a riveting journey well worth taking.
Standing on the Side of Love
If listening to New England's Greg Greenway brings a hint of déjà vu, it's for good reason. Greenway, a superb singer/songwriter with a profound spiritual sensibility, recalls esteemed forebears of an earlier era, specifically the 1970s. Jackson Browne is again brought to mind in the gospel-like sweep of the title track and "You Can't Keep A Good Woman Down." Meanwhile the late Dan Fogelberg is recalled through the pious piano ballad "The Weight of Feathers." Paul Simon and James Taylor get their nods too, as reflected in Greenway's penchant for stirring melody and emotion in equal measure. No wonder, then, that Standing on the Side of Love stands out in every sense.
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors
Rock and roll troubadours find themselves in a crowded field these days, but when one emanates the kind of authority and conviction evidenced in the music of Drew Holcomb, it begs immediate attention. The one-two punch packed by the lead tracks to Holcomb's latest set the standard, a riveting, no-nonsense sense of affirmation that invests this album with anthemic urgency. That makes Passenger Seat a captivating record, one that suggests Holcomb has actually lived these hard-bitten tales and has the prowess to prove it. "Love is Magic" sounds like it could give Holcomb a hit, but all these soul-searing narratives provide a profound first impression.
Hull Full Of Oil and Bone
A name like Listing Ship and an instrumental line-up that leans heavily on banjos, fiddles, pump organ, and viola might create the impression that this is an album primed by sea shanties and other kinds of rollicking ramblings. And okay, you will find that here, as well as other examples of archaic folk fare. Still, Listing Ship is an eclectic communal combo, one that skirts different styles but maintains a modern sensibility, not unlike Broken Social Scene and its various offshoots. hese sepia-tinged melodies purvey a lovely lilt and quiet charm, and as they implore, "Open your heart to me," it's all but impossible to resist.
-- Lee Zimmerman