A seriously heartwarming set: some honey-coated acoustic guitar alongside Drew Holcomb’s warm, toasty vocals lifted everyone’s spirits on Saturday night at The Bullingdon.
Drew Holcomb and the other half of his duo, Nathan Dugger, are themselves one half of American band, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. Their music is variously described as Americana, folk, indie and California country rock. And that’s about right. If you can’t imagine it, think Nashville’s answer to Jack Johnson: a little less ‘banana pancakes’ and little more heartbreak.
Holcomb doesn’t want to grab you too tightly with his music; it’s more like a friendly arm round your shoulder and a reassuring pat on the back. And he and Nathan delivered that vibe wonderfully on Saturday, being very at ease with the audience: it was intimate and relaxed.
Everyone was happy to join in on the chorus of ‘Here We Go’, my personal favourite, with its irresistible, foot-tapping rhythm and infectiously twangy hook. And Drew knew just how to get everyone on side by commenting, ‘you guys sound better than London!’
Occasionally you feel Holcomb could reach a little further with his lyrics instead of falling back on some rather overused country tropes, like ‘you’ll always be my girl’ and ‘your love is like an avalanche.’ The soft guitar strumming and tinkling keyboard accompaniment carry you along well enough, however, that you can just about forgive him in the moment.
There was also the obligatory ‘unplugged’ song – a phenomenon of recent years that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. The duo weren’t too precious about it though and with such a friendly vibe, it didn’t feel too forced. Everyone was soon joining in.
‘Au natural’ indulgence aside, the sound was really great at The Bullingdon: incredibly warm, rich and smooth. At no point did it feel thin or stripped back with just the two of them (either both on acoustic guitar or Nathan on keyboards and Drew on guitar) – they achieved a really full sound.
The Drew Holcomb Duo is feel-good, catchy and engaging, which is what you want from live music. I thoroughly enjoyed the gig and while the heating might not be working at The Bullingdon (due to the refurb), there was still plenty of warmth there on Saturday thanks to Nathan and Drew.