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Cruel Sunrise Deluxe Edition

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Audio CD, September 25, 2012
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$16.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details Only 2 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Rick Holmstrom long ago joined the exclusive club of blues guitarists whose playing you recognize in two notes. His incendiary work with Johnny Dyer, William Clarke, Rod Piazza and R.L. Burnside proved that he could shuffle with the best of them, but on Cruel Sunrise the California guitarist was looking for something else.

The two CDs that comprise the Deluxe Edition of Cruel Sunrise evidence Holmstrom's blues roots largely in their sonic quality. Both Cruel Sunrise and bonus instrumental disc Lonesome exhibit the live, small room sound that lent exotic mystery to classic recordings by Holmstrom's heroes: Lightnin Hopkins, Mose Allison, Gatemouth Brown and Little Walter.

Rick Holmstrom - My band (Stephen Hodges drums and Jeff Turmes bass, guitar, saxophone and backing vocals) played a regular Sunday residency for years in LA, says Holmstrom. That audience just wanted to relax, drink and enjoy some good music, not be pummeled by it. We realized we sounded better as we played quieter - going for ambience, rather than the punch or impact needed for a Saturday night crowd. And as we got quieter everything sounded bigger.

The quest for quiet but big sound finds aid in Turmes' sparse bass parts matched with his huge tone, as well as the inventive kit-plus-percussion drumming Hodges lent to recordings by Tom Waits and others.

Cruel Sunrise opens with Need To Dream, extolling having a vision over alcohol abuse - with a Beatlesesque chorus to hammer it home. The title tune follows with a plea for release from the merry-go-round of the midnight creep, couched in searing, sweaty swamp rock.

Current employer Mavis Staples takes over the vocal chores for Owe You Everything, as Holmstrom's tremolo guitar recalls the distinctive style of her late father. Sometimes I have to look around because I think Pops is up there with Rick, says Staples. I say to Rick, Pops is in your fingers. He's got that soulful feeling.

You Drive 'em Crazy tells the time-honored blues tale of a fickle woman more in the manner of Neil Young than Muddy Waters. My mind got blown by Neil's sound, says Holmstrom. For a year there I wanted to be Neil Young." Frustration finds release in the burning solo concluding It's Time I Lose.

Inhabited by the ghost of Slim Harpo, Creepin' In sparse solo demonstrates the band philosophy of embrace the space. Holmstrom next offers protection in I'll Hold You Close, even as his dark toned guitar evokes monsters and villians.

Mavis returns to interject testimony on the gospel-hued Lord Please, before Holmstrom's guitar testifying takes it home. Hodges' hip hop groove on I'm Not Afraid recalls the brilliant blues-meets-beats experiment of Holmstrom's 2002 Hydraulic Groove. Holmstrom's off-kilter melody and harmony then take Break It Down to appropriately dark-night-of-the-soul spaces.

By My Side points up the overlooked relationship between country music and the blues, while the vocal-less Luellie offers a taste of the less-is-more attitude featured on Lonesome, the Deluxe Edition's instrumental bonus disc.

Blues fans will dig Holmstrom's distinctive guitar tone and occasional blasts of fretboard fire on Cruel Sunrise, while fans of Neil Young, Chuck Prophet, Wilco and Neko Case will respond to his heartfelt songs.

Cruel Sunrise is a record for the times. In a world where the record industry is but one more casualty of social and economic upheaval, Rick Holmstrom's melodic tunes and tight, creative trio demonstrate that you can stray from the blues form and still offer all of its cathartic essence.

Review

Great blues guitarists are about tone, mood, and style. Being nimble helps, but intensity and passion more often exist between the notes. Rick Holmstrom revels in this abundance. --All Music Guide

Rick reminds me of my Pops. He's got that soulful feeling. I love playing with Rick. --Mavis Staples

Rick reminds me of my Pops. He's got that soulful feeling. I love playing with Rick. --Mavis Staples

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 25, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: M.C. Records
  • ASIN: B008FVZJHA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,561 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Blues411 on October 2, 2012
Format: MP3 Music
There is a sound out there that exists between Rock, Blues, Rockabilly and Surf music, really there is. I, for one, am glad that no one to this point has given it a classification as we are want to do. What it is called is immaterial but one cat who has it down is Rick Holmstrom.

On his latest release "Cruel Sunrise" Mr. Holmstrom lays it all down on disc for our enjoyment. Starting with `Need To Dream' he explores the regions of the mind that are so vital to our well being - dreams and dreaming. There is a strong rock beat that recalls early Smithereens, but with a certain pleading urgency to the lyrics that belies the seemingly simple song.

The title track follows with a reverb drenched guitar intro that turns into a funky walk-about styled song that paints an impressionistic aural vision of his vilipend attitude towards sunrises. As others may embrace them he finds that everything looks better in the moonlight. His guitar work on the other hand much deserves the light of day as it is constructed much like jagged edges that cut deep but ultimately heal themselves because of their wholeness and absolute value and worth.

Mr. Holmstrom has a long and pedigreed history in the Blues and Roots music world. Having played with William Clarke, Johnny Dyer, Rod Piazza Rick can now be found touring alongside Ms. Mavis Staples as part of her fine, fine band. Ms. Staples takes the vocal reigns on `Owe You Everything' and `Lord Please' - this simple act speaks volumes about how highly regarded he is amongst the elite of the Blues framily.

All songs are written by Mr. Holmstrom (12 in total) and this release has given us evidence to his growing ability as a songwriter.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Threechord on August 30, 2012
Format: Audio CD
Whenever I see Rick live or listen to any of the CD's that he records or produces, I know that I am going to get a lot of great production, cool tones and tasty guitar. Cool Sunrise has all of the elements listed above. Both long time fans and newcomers will really enjoy the sonic qualities of this record.

Great sound aside, I was truly blown away by the quality of the song writing on this album. There are a number of songs that play out in your mind like a movie or a short story. It's been 5 years since his last release and the exponential growth in his songwriting is nothing short of amazing. (I particularly like "I'm Not Afraid") I am sure that a number of better know artists would give their right arms to play and write songs like these.

This one is truly a no brainier. Go buy it now....
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Format: Audio CD
Holmstrom has nice guitar chops, but he's more concerned with creating atmosphere, swampy tones and funky lines than showing off - I like that. And, the writing here is pretty good. The bonus disc is instrumental cover songs and is pretty cool. The problem I have is that IMO he has a weak, very weak voice and that is the main disappointment here. If he wants to sing at the live gigs, fine. But I would like to see guest vocalists (like Mavis Staples on 2 tracks - awesome!) when recording studio stuff. It would have been a better album with some other singer(s) employed.
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By alaska slim on December 11, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
My favorite blues guitarist (now with Mavis Staples) branches out into roots music with his killer band. Very minimal at times, it's a very engaging work. Mavis guests. Even though I ordered the double disc, I only got the package with one.
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By J. Dangy on August 29, 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
After Hydraulic Groove I had a bit forgot about Rick Holmstrom but his long time association with teh legendary Mavis Staples had bring him back to my scope. This record features all the great talent of Rick as a guitar player and king of the groove. If you like the raw sound of a Telecaster into an old Fender Vibroverb Amp this is for you
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