Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors have been floating at the edge of our collective music consciousness for a while now. We first heard about them in the middle of last year, heard them on The Music Bed’s Christmas compilation, and then heard that, in anticipation of their album, they were announcing that they’d be supporting NeedtoBreathe, including a spot on the Rock Boat with NeedtoBreathe, Green River Ordinance, Good Old War, and Matthew Mayfield (to name a few). Now, they’ve released Good Light, an album that justifies all the hype and cements them as a band to watch for in 2013 and a serious album of the year contender. Think The Lumineers, but with more rock.
Straddling the line between southern rock and folk rock, Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors have the songwriting chomps to put them above the average folk and acoustic groups and the organs and harmonicas to place them in league with the NeedtoBreathe’s of the world. This album is one of two converging and intertwining styles. First, there’s the rock side of the album, one that comes off as a slightly less heavy version of a band like the Black Crowes, complimented beautifully by the improved songwriting influences from the other style. This other style, namely traditional folk/singer songwriter, is executed flawlessly, sounding almost like acoustic versions of much more electric rock songs. It’s catchy with the kind of hooks and “solos” that are typically missing in acoustic songs.
The album kicks off with “Another Man’s Shoes”, a song vaguely reminiscent of Amos Lee. It’s a soft rock song with organs about perspective. It’s not a traditional rock song by any means. “Every one’s got their own set of troubles,/ Every one’s got their own set of blues./ Every one’s got their own set struggles,/ Walk a mile in another man’s shoes.” The first single is next, “Good Light”, and this song is every bit the southern rock song. It starts with country twangy guitars and harmonica then fills in with smooth vocals and upbeat lyrics about seeing the good in every one. Sticking with the southern rock theme is “Tennessee”, a song with the music and lyrics to let you know that their homeland is hugely influential on the band. The last real rock song on the album is “Nothing Like A Woman”, a rock love song with both piano and organ and some male/female harmonies thrown in for good measure. “Nothing can stop you like a woman,/ Make a man forget his own name.”
The softer side of the album is highlighted by “Wine We Drink”, a love song sung by Holcomb and his wife, who provides all the female vocals on the album and writes with her husband. This song is incredible as it captures the love and vulnerability shared by two people.
“I’m not a sunset, or a hurricane, or a Vincent Van Gogh.
You are the one thing that I know.
It’s in the wine we drink, Dirty dishes in the kitchen sink.
The light go out till the sun comes up, we are not alone.
It’s in the miles we drive, never having to say goodbye.
It’s the things we tell each other, without saying a word.”
The other stellar love songs are “I Love You, I Do”, a song reminiscent of The Barr Brothers with its incredible rhythm, and “What Would I Do Without You”, a song that feels like an honest confession of how much one person needs another. Both of these show that this group is capable of achieving what every singer-songwriter sets out to do and they do it so effortlessly. There are also a few songs that straddle the mellow acoustic vibe and the southern rock sound. “Nothing But Trouble” is a fun, playful love song. “Can’t Take It With You” is a frustrated song, eloquently expressing a difficult feeling. “It seems like you don’t care about tomorrow./ You’re wasting every moment that you borrow./ There’s a pile of hearts you’ve broken and you’ve borrowed/ and you’re only regret is getting caught./ You can’t take it with you, when you’re gone.” Lastly, “A Place to Lay My Head” is a song that starts off slowly with an acoustic guitar and slowly builds to a rock climax. Think a southern rock sound of Coldplay’s “Fix You” or Mumford and Sons’ “Below My Feet”.
Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors have officially arrived. Take notice. This band has the kind of sound that will capture the ears of the country soon. It’s a sound that is both fresh and feels familiar. That’s distinctly folk rock, but is guaranteed to please everyone. Good Light will most definitely be one of the best albums of 2013.