Magnolia Music (label)
26 January 2015 (released)
23 January 2015
On Medicine's anthemic Shine Like Lightning, Drew Holcomb takes a pop at the music industry and radio for largely ignoring the band over their ten years in the industry - with Holcomb admitting that the song is an indication that they have a bit of a chip on their shoulder. As if to hammer home the point, it is the kind of folk-rock fodder that radio used to snap up. After a decade touring his arse off, Holcomb has a right to have that chip, but if there's any justice then 2015 might see radio finally embracing his musical charm.
The theme of Medicine is based around the idea that Holcomb has found music a kind of therapy throughout his life, taking in the likes of Radiohead after the death of his brother when he was aged just seventeen as an example. The title works well, because the album soothes the senses; such as on Avalance's sublime guitar solo or the wonderful opening lines of the delicate reflection of teenage romance American Beauty ("She was a good companion, eyes like the Grand Canyon"). This is the kind of medicine that doesn't have a nasty after-taste.
There are echoes of the likes of Whiskeytown and The Jayhawks throughout, while vocally Holcomb drifts somewhere between David Gray and Neil Diamond. There's also a touch of Nils Lofgren and his long-time colleague Bruce Springsteen about Medicine, as he moves from the plaintive and soulful on Heartbreak to the wider screen The Last Thing We Do.
These are songs from the heart and some writers find that can lead to too much sugar, and it all gets a bit saccharine, but the band gets it just right. Even the sentimental You'll Always Be My Girl, written for his wife Ellie, stays the right side of corny. The epic God-questioning closer When It's All Said And Done is a Holcomb masterpiece of Americana. I defy anyone not to be touched by its passion and class. If the industry and radio continues to ignore Holcomb and his band and after this, he will have an absolute right to feel aggrieved.