Chasing Someday

Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors

Dual Tone Records, 2011

http://www.drewholcomb.com

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/06/2018

It can be disorienting coming in in the middle of a movie; how did the protagonist arrive where he or she is now, and how do those earlier experiences help complete the arc their character goes through in the course of the story?

It can be like that with musical artists, too. I came in smack in the middle of The Drew Holcomb Story, starting out with 2017’s Souvenir and only then looking backward to his initial breakthrough and first charting album, 2011’s Chasing Someday. Three key differences between the albums manifest themselves in the first five songs.

First is the big rock dynamics heard on opener “Fire & Dynamite,” an airy, searching alt-rock tune that bears a striking resemblance to similar-era Switchfoot in its sound and lyrical approach. Like Switchfoot frontman Jonathan Foreman, Holcomb conveys both an intensity of purpose and a sense of humor, sings about faith without ever calling his god by name, and makes big, earnest, insightful, idealistic songs. And while his more recent music has a stronger Americana/folk-rock flavor, his often anthemic approach to songwriting is a good fit for this style as well. (Plus, you can’t go wrong with a snappy line like “You are a novel in a sea of magazines”…)

Second is the strong presence of wife Ellie Holcomb, who’s since gone solo while occasionally guesting on Drew’s songs, but in 2011 was a full-fledged member of Holcomb’s backing band The Neighbors. She takes a verse on “Anywhere But Here” and sings lead on “Your Love,” the latter basically a giant arrow pointing down her subsequent path as a solo CCM artist. nbtc__dv_250

The latter tension plays into the third immediately apparent difference: a song (“Live Forever”) that’s both explicitly about faith and carries a strong evangelical message. It’s a beautiful song, but I honestly don’t know how to react to it. I believe sincere faith deserves respect and people should be free to believe what they want to believe. I also think the idea of faith granting immortality was an invention of ancient religious leaders looking for ways to control the unruly masses. Let’s just agree to disagree on this one, Drew…

Moving along, the big rock dynamics of “Miracle” echo “Fire And Dynamite,” building up a healthy head of steam before lofting into the atmosphere with chorused vocals backed by arena-sized riffing; for a moment things get very BoDeans, that soaring Americana sound with the big guitars. Through the middle of the album we get lovely story-songs (“Someday”), endearingly lusty entreaties (“Can’t Get Enough Of You”), flashes of rockabilly (“Steal My History”), and a road song with a hint of Springsteen in the bells and glockenspiel (“Baby Tomorrow”).

The final trio offers a slow-building folk-rock number (“Hourglass”) that’s contemplative and philosophical right up until the big, airy alt-rock guitar solo. The characteristic “Day At A Time” marries ambling, rather serious verses (‘Movies don’t tell you the truth / It’s much harder than they make it look”) with an expansive, optimistic chorus (“We’re making something worthwhile / I love you, baby I love you”). The Holcombs close Chasing Someday with “Weight Of The World,” a slow, serious, intense duet that again reminds of similar tunes by Switchfoot, carrying a similar message about the difficulties and challenges of everyday life, and how love (and faith) can help you rise above it all.

Chasing Someday has more shine and crunch than Souvenir, but ultimately less appeal. Holcomb’s songwriting and arranging chops would only improve from here, even as his sound lost some of its alt-rock affectations, becoming both more grounded and more varied in subject matter within the core Americana palette. This album offers a number of strong moments and striking images, but Drew Holcomb And The Neighbors could, and would, do better.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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