Drew Holcomb, backed by his band The Neighbors for "Medicine," sometimes sounds like he's trying too hard to perform like his idols. For instance, the loose wisdom spouted via "Here We Go" brings to mind a slicker version of Bob Dylan with The Band circa "The Basement Tapes." "Shine Like Lightning" feels like a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers chugging rocker. Lastly, the tinkling pianos and charging guitars that introduce "Last Thing We Do" immediately bring Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band to mind.
Holcomb still sounds like he's searching for a unique voice. The good news is he's really good - even when he sounds a little imitative - so once he learns how to put a Holcomb fingerprint on his music, we may be in for something truly wonderful.
Also to his credit, Holcomb never comes off like he's phoning in any of these songs and sings passionately throughout. He may be at his best, though, when he tamps things down considerably, as happens during the gently reflective "Ain't Nobody Got It Easy" that bears a enjoyable resemblance to Bob Marley's "Redemption Songs."
Many of Holcomb's new songs struggle with hard truths, such as the careful travels detailed during "Tightrope." This makes "Medicine," indeed, an appropriate title for the collection.