American singer-songwriters like Drew Holcomb are needed to continue to push the narrative of modern music - while still being able to look back to the bands that influenced their adolescent-angst years from the Beatles to Radiohead. Drew Holcomb writes awe-inspiring songs from the heart, such as the epic “American Beauty,” to the praise-worthy “Hallelujah,” and don’t forget the sexy “The Wine We Drink,” with wife and bandmate Ellie Holcomb. That songwriting trend continues with his truly wonderful new record, “Souvenir,” out March 24 through Magnolia Records. It doesn’t hurt that this bearded Tennessean happens to be one of the nicest dudes in music today.
For his sixth studio album, Holcomb kept it in his musical family by enlisting his longtime bandmates the Neighbors, Nathan Dugger (guitar/keys/vocals) and Rich Brinsfield (bass/vocals) as co-writing brothers in arms on “Souvenir.” Holcomb and the Neighbors have hit their stride on this album, finally unearthing that 21st century Americana storytelling voice, with echoes of Springsteen’s poetry, mixed with hints of the achy soul of David Gray.
“Morning Song” kicks off the album with visions of laying in bed next to the one you love or maybe just lust with lyrics as, “I want to make love after midnight and fall asleep in your arms. I want to sing away the sadness and ride the wave until the ocean stops." Holcomb and the Neighbors go stark and intimate on the beautiful “Rowdy Heart, Broken Wing,” while “Postcard Memories” waxes the best kind of nostalgia.
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors hit the road the day after the album release with a special performance on the PBS classic Bluegrass Underground. The “Souvenir” tour will also make stops in Los Angeles at the El Rey Theater, and Rams Head Live in Baltimore, as well as a big appearance at this year’s Stagecoach Festival in California. Tickets for all three of these shows can be found on AXS.com.
As he prepared for the upcoming tour, Drew Holcomb sat down with AXS at his office in Nashville, chatting about the new album, “Souvenir,” his post-election song, and covering a Ryan Adams song in front of Ryan Adams himself.
AXS: It’s been a minute since your last album “Medicine,” which was widely lauded. How does this new album “Souvenir” differ from previous albums?
Drew Holcomb: Hopefully this record is a progression as a band. A couple of differences between this album and the last one, this record I co-wrote with my band. This record has a lot of their fingerprints on it. They tend to be a little more musical than me. “Souvenir” has more of a Beatles vibe, more of a 70s sound, with a lot more going on, but at the heart of the record is still my voice.
AXS: You talked about being a “confused American” on your website being the inspiration in writing your pre-election song “Wild World.” What did you need to say when you wrote this song?
DH: I wrote that song a couple months before the election. The kind of level of discourse in this country over the last year and a half has reached levels I never thought I’d see. It’s been incredibly disappointing for me. I’ve never been an openly political artist. A lot of times music people want to center their life away from the chaos of politics and personal drama and try and make sense who we are. I just had to say something, and this song was my something to say.
AXS: When people hear Memphis, Elvis usually pops in their brain first. What were you listening to as a kid growing up in Memphis that made you want to get into music?
DH: The first singer-songwriter that first captured me and made me want to emulate them was David Gray. I was a senior in high school, driving to see my sister who was a freshman at Ole Miss and my friend bought this cd from the Columbia House U.K., it was his “White Ladder” album that cost $28. There is all this soul, storytelling and emotion in his voice and acoustic guitar. Super simple stuff, and I knew I wanted to do something like he was doing.
AXS: What is going to be like playing the Stagecoach Country Music Festival in April?
DH: Stagecoach is a festival that I thought it’d be fun to go out to the desert to and play for these folks in Southern California, and I feel we’ll resonate with the fans. Even though we’re not a country band, we can kind of grab onto their coattails because country fans are song people. We’re too middle of the road to play Coachella (laughs).
AXS: What new music are you into these days?
DH: From our Magnolia Record Club that I curate, we have two new records that I really love. Rhiannon Giddens’ “Freedom Highway” is based on African American experiences starting pre-slavery. It’s intense and really good. And, Lori McKenna’s “The Bird and the Rifle” has been on repeat in our house since its release.
AXS: After so many years of being on tour, what is one of your favorite stories being on the road?
DH: When I was very young I was playing New York City for the first time in a very small club. I think it was the fifteenth show I ever played. I went on at 7pm on Tuesday and there must have been 12 people in the room, including the staff. I started playing a cover of Ryan Adams’ “Oh, my sweet Carolina” and Ryan Adams walks into the bar while I’m playing the song. (laughs)
Holcomb and the Neighbors are giving back to each city on this new tour with their newly launched “Love Your Neighbor Campaign,” with proceeds from the tour benefitting local charities along the way. Check out Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors new album “Souvenir, and catch their nationwide tour beginning March 29.
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors Tour Dates:
March 25 - McMinnville, TN - Bluegrass Underground
March 29 - Charlottesville, VA - The Jefferson
March 30 - Charlotte, NC - McGlohan Theatre
March 31 - Charleston, SC - Charleston Music Hall
April 1 - Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel
April 2 - Greensboro, NC - Blind Tiger
April 5 - Jackson, MS - Duling Hall
April 6 - Birmingham, AL - Lyric Fine Arts
April 7 - Louisville, KY - Headliner's Music Hall
April 8 - Atlanta, GA - The Tabernacle
April 19 - Fayetteville, AR - George's Majestic Lounge
April 20 - Houston, TX - The Heights Theater
April 21 - Dallas, TX - Granada Theater
April 22 - Austin, TX - Antone's
April 26 - Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up
April 27 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theater (Click here for tickets)
April 28 - Indio, CA – Stagecoach Music Festival AXS (Click here for tickets)
April 29 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall
May 3 - Portland, OR - Aladdin Theater
May 4 - Spokane, WA - Knitting Factory
May 5 - Seattle, WA - Neptune Theatre
May 6 - Boise, ID - Knitting Factory
May 12 - Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium
May 13 - Nashville, TN - Ryman Auditorium
May 17 - Philadelphia, PA - Theatre of the Living Arts
May 18 - New York, NY - Irving Plaza
May 19 - Boston, MA - Paradise Rock Club
May 20 - Baltimore, MD - Rams Head (Click here for tickets)
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