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Mix of gravel, honey reveal 'Simple Truths'

Reviews: The Holmes Brothers dig deep to get to core of songs
/ Source: The Associated Press

In this week's reviews, we offer some "Simple Truths" from The Holmes Brothers while Nerissa and Katryna Nields are in sync on "This Town Is Wrong."

“Simple Truths,” The Holmes Brothers
The Holmes Brothers’ righteous mix of gospel, blues and soul is as raw and sweet as can be on “Simple Truths.” The music kicks, the singing is a classic mix of gravel and honey, and the material is outstanding.

Besides several original songs, “Simple Truths” contains a diverse group of covers, from songs by Collective Soul to Hank Williams, Bob Marley to Gillian Welch. It’s a rare band that can take “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” and “Concrete Jungle” and make each its own.

The band reaches its apex here on a gorgeous, shimmering version of “If I Needed You” by the late Townes Van Zandt. And that’s much of the magic of The Holmes Brothers — the ability to get at the core of any song from any genre and yet render it original.

The Holmes Brothers are an undiscovered American treasure, a band that has produced jaw-dropping music for more than two decades yet remained on the edge of obscurity.-- Eric Fidler

“This Town Is Wrong,” Nerissa and Katryna NieldsThe ability to blend good music with interesting lyrics is an elusive one, but it’s clear once again with “This Town Is Wrong” that Katryna and Nerissa Nields have mastered it.

The sisters who led the band that bore their name are now a duet, and their years of working and thinking together are obvious in every song they sing, from the first words of the first track (“She’s too old for the playground. She’s too young for the graveyard”) to the final opening (“I sold my computer for a used acoustic guitar”).

“This Town Is Wrong,” we’re told, is a companion album to Nerissa Nields’ new novel of the same name — and that the songs are about characters within her story. But you don’t need the book to appreciate the adept turns of phrases, the high notes of glee and contemplative moments of melancholy, and the blend of genres that unites blues and country, balladry and funk.

A particular gem is “Glow-in-the-Dark Plastic Angel.” Turn it up, put down what you’re doing and just listen. This — song and album both — is the Nields sisters at their best.-- Ted Anthony

“Attack,” Yngwie Malmsteen
The six-string king is back with yet another brilliant album that shows why Yngwie Malmsteen (pronounced ING’-vay) remains at the top of the heap of rock guitarists. On “Attack,” his first studio album in three years, the speedy Swede has gotten even faster — if that’s possible — without sacrificing the lush orchestral arrangements, rapid-fire arpeggios and classical elements that left so many mouths hanging open when he burst onto the scene with Steeler and Alcatrazz in the early 1980s.

On tracks like “Rise Up” “Baroque and Roll” “Air” and “In The Name Of God,” Malmsteen demonstrates a vast knowledge of classical compositions by Bach, Beethoven and others.

Dougie White is the latest in a long line of vocalists teaming up with Malmsteen, and he offers up an adequate lyrical counterpart to Malmsteen’s blistering guitar.

The solos themselves are truly things of beauty, sweeping the listener away in rapid-fire bursts of sound and symmetry, flying from the choruses like bucking broncos bursting from a rodeo gate, full of fury and power, aiming to shake off any and all constraints. It’s a breathtaking ride, but one well worth holding onto.-- Wayne Parry