It’s been a busy year for Drew Holcomb. As an artist, his latest studio record with the Neighbors comes with their recent concert set, Live at the Ryman, still nipping at its heels. He’s been keeping up as a curator with his Magnolia Record Club, too, and that’s only considering the business side of things when one comes to realize that he’s a husband (to an equally as talented singer-songwriter, Ellie Holcomb) and a father as well, as his very compellingly homely social media updates would cue one in on. To top things off, Holcomb is a man – just another man tossed into the whirlwind of adversity that our current age has pervaded the world in in spades, and like the rest of us, he’s taking it one day at a time.
Souvenir is a record that feels altogether anthemic, but not without cause. You won’t find the droll goings-on of popular music themes in this piece, which ironically may be why a songwriter with Holcomb’s talent and worldview may not have found the same fame as some of his fellow country music constituents. What we have here instead is a very conscious album, one that feels fueled by a fire straight from the same heartland hearth that other Americana artists have drawn their inspiration from musically, but with an added self-awareness and weariness about the world that keeps it particularly special.
Moreover, Souvenir feels something like just what its name says on the tin. Abundantly sprinkled throughout the album are windows peering into Holcomb’s personal life, perhaps most obviously in an ode to his daughter on the swingin’ “Mama’s Sunshine, Daddy’s Rain”. Elsewhere, Holcomb takes on the role of philanthropist both laments and embraces the current world in songs like “New Year” and especially “Wild World”. The latter is a piece so truthful yet so entrenched in love that it would be truly worthy of any accolades it might be capable of nabbing, and the accompanying music video of some months’ past is most certainly worth a look as well.
Back to the anthems that Souvenir has an abundance of, “Fight for Love” seems the most clear radio hit, with its soaring proclamation for its subject matter making for something catchy with a universally relatable theme for the masses. Other highlights include the similarly rollicking love song, “California”, and “Black and Blue”, a searing duet with wife Ellie.
All in all, Souvenir is a standout record of the year so far, offering up a collection of tireless songs. It’s one that could compel even those individuals who are the least excitable over country music to admit that there’s some powerful songwriting at play.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm