Meet Drew Holcomb and you'd swear he's older than his 24 years. In a way, he is. As one person put it, Holcomb is to music what C.S. Lewis is to literature: keen observer of the human condition, miner of truths and, most of all, master storyteller. Or to hear Holcomb sing it: "Some say the soul of a man is in his philosophy, but I say you can find it in his tears." Hailing from the rock and roll capitol of Memphis, Tenn.
Holcomb has added his own chapter to the city's rich musical legacy, one built on profoundly moving songs with the kind of heightened pop-rock hooks that have also earned him plenty of David Gray comparisons. Exposed as a kid to his parents' record collection (Bob Dylan and Al Green got lots of spins), Holcomb soon took to the guitar and began writing songs while a student at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.
His knack for penning powerful tunes blossomed when he spent two school terms living in Edinburgh, Scotland, a place of spellbinding character for the young musician - How many European cities can boast their own volcano, after all? "It's a magical place," says Holcomb. "I grew up reading Narnia and Tolkien. Edinburgh is one of those worlds ... When I got over there, I had all this free time. I didn't know that many people, so I grabbed my guitar and wrote, wrote, wrote." Those songs found their way on two records, a 2004 EP, Lost & Found, and his recent full-length debut, Washed in Blue, an album that's been hailed for the way it "combines intellect and emotion like few local (or even national) records ever do...a blue mood cleansing."
These days, Holcomb woodsheds his growing catalog of originals on the road, where he spends the better half of the year playing gigs that have taken him from Memphis to Boston, from Colorado to Italy. He's also shared the stage with Los Lobos, Susan Tedeschi, Marc Broussard and Sister Hazel. Opening for that latter band, in fact, has brought Holcomb full circle. Sister Hazel was the first rock concert he ever saw. Now, not only has he performed with them, he's found a champion in their producer, Paul Ebersold, the man who helmed Sister Hazel's multi-platinum breakthrough, Somewhere More Familiar (and who made the above C.S. Lewis observation, by the way). At 23, Holcomb is delightfully mid-stream, fast honing a voice that seeks to match his many influences, generation-defining songwriters from Dylan and Springsteen to U2 and Steve Earle. Combine a good message with a good rockin' riff and, well, that's something Holcomb can sink his contemplative teeth into. "I've got a long way to go," he says. "My hope is to be someone who has real content."