John Dee Holeman's You Got to Lose, You Can't Win All the Time | Record Review | Indy Week
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John Dee Holeman's You Got to Lose, You Can't Win All the Time 

(Music Maker Recordings)

⇒ Read also: "John Dee Holeman has guitar, will travel ... so long as the road leads home"

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The blues are arguably the most direct and conversational form of music. As blues singers unspool their tales, which tend to alternate between the extremes of hardship and conquest, their moans of peril and of pleasure are delivered mouth to gut. Similarly, the best way to present the blues is often the most basic: one guitar, one voice. Keep it unfiltered and uncluttered.

So when hearing that, on his latest recording, John Dee Holeman came with a five-piece band plus a handful of other guests on everything from banjo to sax—a recipe for dilution—some concern would be understandable. Fear not: Producer Zeke Hutchins (who joins Cool John Ferguson, Jay Brown, harmonica man Slewfoot and Music Maker founder Tim Duffy in the band) keeps the spotlight right where it belongs, on Holeman's voice and lead guitar. "Mojo Hand" features the pedal steel of Chatham County Line's Greg Readling, echoing softly like a train whistle two hollows over, as well as a Readling Wurlitzer solo and background vocals from Taz Halloween. It's a musician-stocked number, but all the players fall into a straight line leading right to Holeman. Same for the title track, a sassy, Holeman-penned hunk of Slim Harpo-styled R&B. It all comes down to Holeman's bold playing and a voice that remains remarkably vibrant and expressive.

Then again, with a pair of instruments that powerful at his disposal, you could surround Holeman with a 100-piece marching band, and he'd likely still earn your attention and make that gut-wise direct connection.

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There's bass in this. It's not a duo, at least in the recordings. …

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Where is the Q and A with Pepper?

by Alex Marsh on Record Review: Hardcore Titans Corrosion of Conformity Bring Pepper Keenan Back Into the Fold (Record Review)

There's bass in this. It's not a duo, at least in the recordings. …

by Steve Grothmann on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Remember that time the "journalist" took to the comments section to fire off a snarky response when called out on …

by JayDubz on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Pretty sure that if the press release we received had mentioned Chris Grubbs, the article would have reflected that crucial …

by David Klein on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

Pretty sure John Meier hasn't been in this band for quite some time and Chris Grubbs wrote and recorded this …

by JayDubz on Record Review: Raleigh's Naked Naps Explore Urgency on Year of the Chump (Record Review)

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