State of Grace

The Holmes Brothers. <i>Alligator</i>.

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On its 10th album, this durable trio recalls the era when soul seceded from gospel music. But don’t expect nostalgia, as the wailing voices of Wendell and Sherman Holmes, plus Popsy Dixon, bring an electrifying edge to bluesy original material and turn familiar songs upside down. A leisurely cover of “I Want You to Want Me” reveals the desperation hidden in Cheap Trick’s 1978 power-pop standard; Nick Lowe’s wistful “(What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?” becomes a rousing manifesto of hope. Although guests Rosanne Cash, Joan Osborne, and Levon Helm add marquee appeal, the Holmes Brothers are a righteous thrill all by themselves.

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