Atlanta musician and vocalist Kathie ‘Holmes is about to release her first album, Trouble Comes In Threes. While she is a classically trained musician, her heart belongs to the blues. She plays keyboards with a rollicking New Orleans style, sings and writes her own songs, and plays the flute. Yes, flute! The flute may not be the first instrument you think of when you think of the blues, but that may change after you hear this album! You will be surprised at how easily Holmes moves from one instrument to the other, and she does that in live performance as well.
Kathie wrote every song on this album except for Bonnie Raitt’s “The Road’s My Middle Name ” and “Cleanin’ Up The Town” by Brian and Kevin O’Neal. “The Party’s With Me” was also co-written with David Ayers. These are all strong songs, with most of them laced with humor. “Trouble Comes In Threes” has Holmes taking the role of the harassed wife letting her husband know just where things stand, while “Settle Down” sees her continue that role, but in a catchy, jumpy song that will stick in your mind.
Next, Holmes switches sides and now she takes the part of the unfortunate other women in the very amusing “2×4.” For “Mama Didn’t Raise Me Right,” Holmes gets autobiographical, with a tale of a musician whose mom provided lessons hoping for a classical musician, but whose heart was born to boogie.
So far, Holmes has been the main musician, backed by Mikey Phillips on drums, Daniel Groover on guitar and Charlie Wooton on bass. But for her “Ghost Feet,” her daughter Julie Holmes provides the guitar and vocal. It is a charming little tale that is a special treat for a former paranormal investigator like me. It would be lovely with an animated video!
Things get mildly rowdy for “The Party’s With Me,” with Holmes back on vocals for the rest of the album. It’s not a middle of the night bar-hopping sort of song, but it does sound like some people are going to have some fun.
The next track, “Breakdown Song,” is a real change of pace, and that threw me off at first. This is a slow, sensitive, beautifully sung song. It took a second listen to really appreciate it, but now every time I play it I like it and admire Holmes’ songwriting more and more.
This leads us to the two songs Holmes did not write, “The Road’s My Middle Name” and “Cleanin’ Up The Town.” While they are enjoyable, I did slightly prefer Holmes’ own songs. Perhaps it is because I associate the first song so strongly with Bonnie Raitt, but to my ears, these two rang with slightly less conviction. That said, the musicianship is still excellent and you may find I am entirely too picky here.
Overall, this is a marvelous debut album from a consummate performer, keyboardist, and flautist. Her combination of talents is unique in my experience and it is refreshing and exciting. Get ready to be charmed!