The Holmes Brothers

Speaking in Tongues (Alligator)

Record Reviews

The Holmes Brothers

Speaking in Tongues (Alligator)

Speaking in the tongues of Ben Harper, Bob Dylan, and "Love Train" may well be considered blasphemous in some quarters, but not here. That the Holmes Brothers can praise the Lord through music greasy enough for the most low-down Memphis roadhouse is hardly a mark against them. The New York trio of Cedric and Wendell Holmes and Willie "Popsy" Dixon can go starkly acoustic or hip-shakingly electric, and if the backing vocals from the Precious Three (including producer Joan Osborne) don't always inspire the purest thoughts, anyone who thinks the ecstatic chicken-scratch of "Can't No Grave Hold My Body Down" or pumping Stax energy of "Jesus Is the Way" aren't divinely inspired needs your prayers posthaste. Even if their reading of "Love Train" is a bit heavy on the patchouli, a slow-burning take on Dylan's "Man of Peace" more than atones. These true believers tackled the Beatles' "And I Love Her" on 1997's Promised Land, and here the admonition against devils in angel wings carries the full weight of contemporary contradictions. But if Satan can appear disguised as a man of peace, why can't the way to salvation lie behind batting bedroom eyes? Gospel albums this sexy probably drive Baptists crazy. (Wednesday, March 14, Antone's, 11pm)

***.5

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