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Blues You Can Use in the Pews

Their voices are rough enough for a juke joint and smooth enough for church. And there's plenty of music for both venues in the new Holmes Brothers album.

Songs like "Those Memories of You" (with guest singer Joan Osborne) and "I've Just Seen the Rock of Ages" (featuring Levon Helm on vocals, snare drum and mandolin) seem to come straight from Sunday morning.

On the bluesier side of town, they cover country and rock songs with a twist, so they never sound like just another bar band. Accordion and Cajun fiddle are added to a Louisiana-fried version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising." And Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?" is slowed down and turned into a plea, sprinkled with Glenn Patscha's organ work.

The strangest song on the album is "Gasoline Drawers," in which a lover tells his girlfriend that he'd run through hell in flammable undies*. Now that's a state of disgrace.

*Scholars of sitcomology might recall a similar underwear image once used by the scribes for the TV series Cheers, in which Norm observed, "It's a dog-eat-dog world and I'm wearing Milk-Bone underwear."

Matthew Socey hosts "The Blues House Party" and is a film correspondent for "The Art of the Matter" at WFYI in Indianapolis.

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Matthew Socey