Drew Holcomb heals and delights with album and tour
Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors will perform on April 11 at The Blue Note.
In 2005, Drew Holcomb released his debut album, “Washed in Blue.” A decade later, along with some Neighbors, “Medicine” strode into record stores.
In the past 10 years, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors has crept into our ears and souls, whether it be in the form of a Dick’s Sporting Goods commercial or on the countless tours that the band embarks on. Yet, one thing is certainly true: Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors is constantly evolving.
“The songwriting is more confident and vulnerable than it used to be,” Holcomb says in an email. “We are all much better musicians than we were a decade ago, and, most importantly, we know exactly what we want our records to sound and feel like.”
You can watch Holcomb’s evolution unfold on stage on April 11 at The Blue Note to hear a variety of songs from across his catalogue.
The old soul Holcomb released “Medicine” in January. Americana through and through, this follow-up to 2013’s “Good Light” is an honest-to-god collection of heartfelt and conversational songs. Along with wife and singer Ellie Holcomb, guitarist and keyboardist Nathan Dugger and bassist Rich Brinsfield, this album offers to heal and delight.
“I guess the message behind this record is that we hope our music finds a home in people's ears and hearts,” Holcomb says. “I know for me, music has been an important medicine for all the joys and tragedies in my life, soundtracking in a way. I want this record to be the kind of record people listen to all the way through and hopefully runs them through a gamut of universal emotions.”
Over the course of 14 months, Holcomb wrote the songs for “Medicine” by listening to friends and family members talk about their lives, which “created the palette (he) painted on.” Holcomb also says that he finds inspiration from books, movies and stories the band hears from fans.
Despite Holcomb’s evolution, and perhaps partly due to it, he still clings to his Tennessee roots. Both Memphis and Nashville hold a special place in his heart. Like he says in the song named after his home state, “it’s not just geography.”
“Memphis is a grittier, more hardworking family town, and its records over the years have more of a 'warts and all' attitude that we take a lot of cues from when we record,” Holcomb says. “But the Nashville side is that we really focus on in the songs. Nashville is a music town, but really it’s a song town, and we helm close to that as well.”
In support of “Medicine,” Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors launched a nationwide tour for the next few months. Despite playing so many shows, some even back to back, the band varies the setlist each night to stay fresh and even throw in a cover occasionally.
“We usually want to take the audience up and down, not too many rock ‘n’ roll songs in a row or too many folky ballads, but they still have to transition well,” Holcomb says. “When you have a new album out, all we want to do is play the new songs, but we have to remember that people like the old ones too, so it’s a good mix. Setlist making is an art form in and of itself.”
From start to finish, Holcomb says that he expects the night to take the listener on a ride.
“It’s going to be a great night,” Holcomb says. “The opening band is Humming House, a great upbeat Americana band from Nashville. They will start the night off with a bang. Then we will come out and do our show, lots of new songs, old songs and rearranged songs. Our set is like a good roller coaster, lots of bursts of energy, but some good quiet moments too.”