State of Grace

The latest from the Holmes Brothers is the group's 8th album since 1990, and once again, they nail a mix of soulful originals and delightful covers with the musical precision that is their hallmark. Fully nine of the album's 14 tracks are covers, ranging from the ideally suited to the delightfully left-field, and the band show themselves to be interpreters par excellence.

Nick Lowe's composition "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love & Understanding" is a perfect example of how the group can take a familiar song and make it their own, something they also do with Creedence Clearwater Revivial's "Bad Moon Rising" and two songs by Lyle Lovett. They even take Cheap Trick's guitar-pop anthem "I Want You to Want Me" and turn it into a slow, soul jam, an aching plea for love and acceptance.

Also helping to liven up the proceedings are some well-placed guest appearances. Joan Osborne does a powerhouse vocal on the country song "Those Memories of You," easily eclipsing any performance on her own recent album. Rosanne Cash sings on the Hank Williams number "I Can't Help It If I'm Still in Love with You." The Band's Levon Helm sits in on two songs, and takes lead vocal on "I've Just Seen the Rock of Ages."

The group's musicianship is impeccable, blending blues, R&B, gospel, country, and rock into one delicious stew. State of Grace looks to be among the best albums so far of this young year.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director