Mark "Porkchop" Holder

Let It Slide

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Over ten years after Mark "Porkchop" Holder left the Black Diamond Heavies to pursue his own muse as a blues guitarist, he finally made his way into the studio to cut his first solo album. While 2017's Let It Slide doesn't necessarily sound like it was a decade in the making, there's no arguing that this album is the work of a unique talent who is clearly not interested in making another by-the-numbers blues album. Holder and his band -- bassist Travis Kilgore and drummer Doug Bales -- hit with the impact of a rock band, and they're full of dirty swagger, but Holder's potent slide guitar work boasts the authority of vintage blues while following a melodic path that's livelier and more adventurous than the usual set of 12-bar workouts. "38" and the title track show that Holder has no quarrel with traditionalism, but his wild reworking of "Stagger Lee" reinvents that chestnut and takes it down a dark and scary alley, and the atmospheric "Disappearing" and the rollicking "Headlights" show how this band can find a sweet spot between dirty blues and raucous rock & roll. Holder's guitar technique is solid but he avoids showboating, keeping the flash of his solos in check, and his vocals are strong, sneering, and to the point. And the production on Let It Slide is just beefy enough to let the players show off their muscles, while staying out of their way and letting them take this music to fifth gear. Where there are plenty of rockers looking to put a muscular new spin on the blues, Holder's music hits hard but shows he has a surprisingly graceful touch, and Let It Slide is a savvy and satisfying solo debut.

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