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The Holmes Brothers
Soul Street
(Rounder)

By Bob Weinberg If you were at the second night of the Riverwalk Blues Fest this year, you are probably a Holmes Brothers convert, and you needn't read any further; just go out and buy this disc immediately. If you missed 'em, you should still go out and buy this disc immediately.

For a trio, Wendell, Sherman, and Popsy create a lot of noise -- their big guitar-bass-drums-harmonies sound makes it seem as if you were listening to a whole roomful of blues band. And all three of these guys sing as if their very souls were at stake, detritus from deeply felt gospel roots.

Joined by sometimes extraneous weepy pedal steel, Dobro, and lap steel on a few tunes, and smoke-belching saxes on a few others, the Holmeses stay stripped down, lean, and not so much mean as spirited.

Soul Street starts off with burning tears as the Bros. put their treatment to "You're Gonna Make Me Cry" (don't even attempt this one without a tall glass of whiskey). And just when you think your heart couldn't possibly ache any harder, boom! Jimmy Reed's "Honest I Do" (pour another glass). But like life, endure enough pain and you will be rewarded, in this case with the original raveup, "Dashboard Bar"; the inspirational beauty, "I Found a Winner"; and some of Soul Street's best moments, a ripping ride through Jimmy Reed's "Down in Virginia" and a way-overcaffeinated version of Fats's and Dave's "My Girl Josephine."

But the stunner here, as in their Riverwalk appearance, is the lovely gospel tune at the end of the Street, "Walk in the Light." The Holmeses know better than to beat audiences about the ears with proselytizing. They let the music do it for them. You'll get the message.

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