The Holmes Brothers

State of Grace

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    8
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The Holmes Brothers do what they do supremely well, taking all sorts of music and making it into gospel -- a sort of musical equivalent of alchemy. There's more of it here, plenty of their own material, but with some absolutely glorious covers. They utterly re-imagine Cheap Trick's perky "I Want You to Want Me" as a piece of '50s gospel, make country-soul from "I Can't Help It If I'm Still in Love with You" (with a great vocal from Rosanne Cash), and do delicious things to a pair of Lyle Lovett tunes. It's good to hear so many covers, actually, not because their own material is weak (anything but!), but rather because they have a special sense of style and a way to extract things from a song that you'd never imagined, as they do with the chestnut "Bad Moon Rising." With a crack band -- and a real tip of the hat goes to multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell -- they're in top form here, and a few guests, like Levon Helm and Joan Osborne, help keep everything down-home and funky. The Holmes Brothers continue their series of small triumphs here.

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