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Holmes Brothers: Speaking in Tongues

The Holmes Brothers bring their heavenly vocal blend to bear on Speaking in Tongues (Alligator 4877; 55:08). Lovingly produced by Joan Osborne, a rootsy diva from Kentucky who scored platinum pop success a few years back with “One of Us,” this project beautifully preserves the inherent vocal blend and signature grooves of the three Holmes Brothers (Wendell, Popsy and Sherman) on a mix of soul staples (Gamble & Huff’s “Love Train”), pop covers (Ben Harper’s “Homeless Child,” Bob Dylan’s “Man of Peace”), sanctified originals (Sherman’s chilling title track) as well as several old school gospel numbers, including Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Can’t No Grave Hold My Body Down” and “King Jesus Will Roll All Burdens Away.” Osborne provides her own backing vocals on several tracks, alongside Maydie Miles and Catherine Russell (The Precious Three). Together they greatly enhance the brothers’ rich sound with their own soulful wailing. This is gritty, powerful stuff that crosses over to the rock-pop camp without abandoning the deep funk and sanctified spirit of The Holmes Brothers’ roadhouse-meets-church roots.

Originally Published