ALBUM REVIEW: Drew Holcomb’s ‘Dragons’ Takes the Long Way Home

The Tennessee trio adds a dash of pop to their trusted Americana formula.

When you’re writing fiction, you’re often told to think of the story arc on a scale between happiness and sadness. The characters start off at one level, usually in the middle, then move towards sadness as they are challenged, before overcoming the challenges and coming back to where they were before. 

It is this scale that perfectly describes my experience with Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors’ new album, Dragons.

The Tennessee folk-rock trio’s latest studio album begins brightly. Opening track “Family” has that perfect hand-clapping, knee-slapping, toe-tapping beat that recall’s the Lumineer’s “Ho Hey” and makes even the staunchest non-believer move along to the music. “End of the World” is another shimmering gem, adding a noticeable pop sheen to Americana sound they’ve built their career on.

This is the start of a dramatic downturn, however, as the next few tracks become more sparse and restrained. While tracks like “But I’ll Never Forget The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Dragons,” “See The World” and “You Want What You Can’t Have” are undeniably pretty on their own—not to mention more true to the band’s folk roots—they sound dull next to the album’s exciting openers.

Then, just as things look to be fizzling out, “Maybe” comes on; a beautiful, perfectly in-sync duet between Holcomb and Natalie Hemby, with a sing-along chorus. Then come the epic love ballads, “Make It Look so Easy” and “You Never Leave My Heart,” which are almost certainly going to be used in TV shows and films forever once they’re discovered. Bringing together the bitter and sweet of the above, “Bittersweet” wraps things up just the way your fiction teacher taught you.

Dragons has its highs and low, but is ultimately another solid addition to this reliable Americana group’s body of work.

Score: 🐉🐉🐉.5 / 5