There’s nothing quite as compelling as music that emanates from a genuinely personal perspective. That’s been Drew Holcomb’s mantra from early on, and on this, the fifth album in ten years by Holcomb and his band, the Neighbors, that’s never been more apparent. Holcomb and company draw inspiration from everyday concerns – marriage, relationships, friendship, faith, and those things that draw people together and sometimes tear them apart. The band’s last album, Good Light, marked a couple of milestones in Holcomb’s own life, specifically his 30th birthday and the birth of his first child, Emmylou. He and his wife Ellie, also a member of the Neighbors, are both actively involved in YoungLife, an outreach organization that mentors young people from a religious perspective, and the couple have frequently performed at YoungLife camp locations across the United States over the summer. Clearly then, Holcomb’s life experiences are closely reflected in the music he makes.
While that tack might suggest a stance that’s wholly introverted to the exclusion of others, it hasn’t prevented the band from reaching wider success. The group’s 2011 offering, Chasing Someday managed to breach the Billboard top 200 album chart. Several other songs have achieved mainstream recognition as well; “Live Forever”, released in 2009, was chosen as the part of the soundtrack for an NBA season preview of the NBA’s 2011-12 season, and also tapped for inclusion in the series finale of House M.D.. Another of their songs, “What Would I do Without You”, released in 2013 was featured on one of the final seasons of the hit CBS show How I Met Your Mother.
That mainstream acceptance is hardly surprising, and in many ways, it’s not unexpected. On their new album, Medicine, the emotional bond is especially affecting, reinforcing the budding relationship they’ve nourished with their fans. It’s due in large part to the unfettered sentiment that all but ensures tracks like “American Beauty,” “Tightrope”, and “Heartbreak” make an indelible impression, even on first encounter. Likewise, the wistful delivery and astute arrangements allow every track to immediately make an impression, although certain songs still stand out. That’s evident in the sweep and command of “The Last Thing We Do”, the percussive thrust of “Sisters Brothers”, the whistled refrain of “I’ve Got You,” and the rousing shout-out accompanying “Shine Like Lightning”. Taken in tandem, these tunes become something akin to veritable anthems of affirmation.
Holcomb and company also open the door to populist possibilities, thanks to consistent touring and the inception of their own Moon River Music Festival, which takes place in Memphis. However, there’s little doubt that Medicine is all the tonic needed to bring them a bigger reception overall. It boasts a communal bond that ought to encourage listeners to come a bit closer and revel in a common bond. Despite whatever success they’ve achieved so far, clearly this is the one to steer them towards a bigger breakthrough, thanks to the fact that no matter what the circumstance they describe, this particular Medicine goes down easy.