Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Album of the Week: RED DIRT SOUL by Holly Renee Allen

Holly Renee Allen is a fiery, country/blues siren. And she smokes and smolders through her new album, Red Dirt Soul. Sounding like a southern fried Susan Tedeschi, Holly moves effortlessly between country, blues and gospel like Bonnie Raitt in her prime. The album (brilliantly produced by Martin Kearns) features smokin' blues guitar and gospel background singers adding just the right emotional backdrop to her soulful, earnest vocals. This is an album that you feel before you hear it. She sings empassioned songs of sin ("First Time Love Kind of Thing", "Fresh Ink") and salvation ("Miss Christine", "The Way") and she dives headfirst into the deep end of both. In "Fresh Ink" she sings, "Fresh ink and whiskey kisses, cheap motels where lovers lie; call it what you want to - I can't stop thinking about you. And nothin's gonna keep me from lovin' you tonight." Then in "The Way" she sings, "The Lord spoke out in a voice of thunder, a light shone bright upon my face, He wrapped me up in the wings of angels. He said, 'Believe on me, I AM the Way.'" Between these polar opposites lies the essence of our human existence. Holly is in tune with her own essence, and shares with us the joys and heartaches, the longings and regrets, the hopes and memories of someone who has lived with open eyes and an open heart. While most of these songs reflect on her past(like the lost love of "Old Flames" or the departed family of "The Last One Standing," I, for one, get the sense that Holly Renee Allen's best days still lie ahead.

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