Holland K. Smith review…September 1, 2013…

HOLLAND K. SMITH

COBALT

ELLERSOUL RECORDS 130801

LOE LIQUIDATION–YOU GET WHAT YOU DESERVE–JUST ONE HEARTACHE–THE ITCH–MAGIC WAND–COBALT–OFF THE CHAIN–LITTLE BIT OF FAITH–THE SECRET–DON’T BUY THAT–ANY OTHER WAY–NEVER GOT THE BLUES–END OF THE DARKNESS–OLHOS VERDES (GREEN EYES)

Texas bluesman Holland K. Smith strikes us as another player who could have easily grown up listening to the late-night offerings of the likes of Gene Nobles, John “R” Richbourg, and Hossman Allen on WLAC here in Nashville.  His latest release for EllerSoul not only would have fit right in on that famed station, but will also remind listeners of the golden days of the vibrant Jefferson Street scene in Nashville in the Fifties and Sixties, when players like Marion James, Earl Gaines, Johnny Jones, and even a young Jimi Hendrix prowled the clubs up and down that famed thoroughfare.

Yes, “Cobalt” is full of Holland’s classic, smooth, R & B-based grooves.  Thirteen cuts are originals, and, alongside the blues cuts are a few tastes of jazz and Latin sounds.  Holland does the guitar work and vocals, and is joined by some of the best sidemen in Texas as the backing band, including Gentleman John Street on keys, Wes Starr on drums, Eric Przygocki and Ronnie James Webber on bass, and Ron Jones on that soulful sax.

The set starts off in a nice, midtempo groove with the tale of when the affair is over, and everything goes at yard-sale prices in a “Love Liquidation.”  Producer and good friend Anson Funderburgh adds guitar in the revenge tale of a cheatin’ lover, “You Get What You Deserve.”  Holland longs for a “Magic Wand” to turn back time in this sweet ballad, then finds himself on the wrong end of an affair that comes crashing down after “The Secret” of her indiscretions is revealed.  “Any Other Way” and “Little Bit Of Faith” are positive messages on the uplifting power of love, and, there are two fine instrumentals, the jazzy title cut, and the Latin tinge of the set-closing “Olhos Verdes.”

We had two favorites, too.  “Just One Heartache” is a solid rocker that deals with a gold-digging girlfriend, while “The Itch” finds Holland in a jumpin’, Little Richard mode, complete with Mr. Street’s pumpin’ piano!

With the recent popularity of artists such as JD McPherson and Mayer Hawthorne, Holland K. Smith joins that sweet soul music parade with “Cobalt.”  This is another set that’s keepin’ the faith of traditional, down-home blues and R & B alive!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

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