Since signing with Alligator, The Holmes Brothers have enjoyed a quantum leap in radio and television exposure, showers of critical acclaim and mushrooming sales for 2001's Speaking In Tongues and 2004's Simple Truths. STATE OF GRACE is an astounding new studio release poised to bring their down-home mix of blues, soul, country and gospel to an even bigger audience. Over the past several years, The Holmes Brothers have appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, CBS' Early Saturday Show, USA Network (Willie Nelson's Outlaws & Angels concert), Weekend Edition, All Things Considered, A Prairie Home Companion, World Caf , Mountain Stage, E-Town, The House of Blues Radio Hour, Acoustic Caf , Woodsongs and Voice Of America. They've also scored rave print reviews from USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, Billboard, Associated Press and Knight-Ridder newswires, the New York Times, Downbeat, JazzTimes and many more. AAA and Americana Radio have also been good to The Holmes Brothers, with stations from both formats charting their releases. In addition, they've received strong support from blues, gospel and other specialty shows. Produced by Simple Truths helmsman Craig Street, STATE OF GRACE is the best record yet of The Holmes Brothers' astonishingly fresh blend of American roots sounds. Fans of their revelatory interpretations of classic songs will thrill to not only "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?," but also a hushed and heavenly "I Want You To Want Me" and their heated Cajun workout on "Bad Moon Rising." The record also features songs by Lyle Lovett, Hank Williams and George Jones, along with several soulful Holmes Brothers originals. Accompanying the band are an all-star cast of singers and instrumentalists, including Rosanne Cash, Joan Osborne, Levon Helm, Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan), John Leventhal and Catherine Russell.
Elvis Costello made Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?" a hard-put question--the Holmes Brothers transform it into a prayer on their spare, passionate tenth album. The disc earns its title by gently framing a clutch of originals and well-chosen covers within their signature blend of old-time gospel singing and roadhouse blues. And zydeco: they transport CCR's "Bad Moon Rising" from the mythic swamps of California songwriter John Fogerty to the authentic bayous of southern Louisiana with an accordion-led arrangement and two-step rhythm. Although these New York City-based juke joint veterans are an electric band, this time out producer Craig Street has surrounded the velvet and grit of their three-part harmonies with acoustic instruments and relaxed tempos. The uncluttered setting magnifies every nuance of their singing, making many of these performances absolutely angelic. And the simpler the better. Their slow, wistful piano-accompanied version of Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me" aches with desire and sadness. Wendell Holmes and Rosanne Cash bare the wounded soul of Hank Williams's "I Can't Help It If I'm Still in Love with You" as they trade verses over acoustic guitars and mandolins. Joan Osborne and Levon Helm contribute guest vocal on other songs, but it's the Brothers' organic union of the spiritual and the corporeal that makes this album so lovely and so thrilling. --Ted Drozdowski