The Hollisters

The Land of Rhythm & Pleasure

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The Hollisters keep dancehall audiences satisfied with their rollicking brand of country music, which translates well to a studio recording on this album. Lead singer Mike Barfield and guitarist Eric Danheim co-wrote nine of the 12 songs here, and their best and most distinctive is "Deacon Brown." The first lilting minute of the song sounds like cowboys singing around the campfire as the singer tells how he "stabbed my Romina with a Barlow knife." Then the drums, electric guitar, and even a Spanish classical guitar kick in, and the tempo increases as the singer describes the consequences of his actions. "Pink Adobe Hacienda" has a more overt south-of-the-border feel with classical guitar and accordion. But these songs are the exception. Midtempo songs that keep the couples dancing are the bread and butter of a band like the Hollisters, whose touring has taken them from one hole-in-the-wall nightclub to another. Songs like "Tyler," "Without Love," and "Good for the Blues" fit that bill. Barfield's baritone has often drawn comparisons to Johnny Cash, and nowhere is this comparison more fitting than on "Heart." Barfield never masters the ruddy resonance of Cash, but his singing is still enjoyable. Overall, this is a very good debut album that should take the Hollisters' music to a broader audience.

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