I’ll be honest, and I’ll keep this short and sweet. Obviously, if I find it worth my time and effort to write a review, you should be picking this up before you read any further. That being said, here’s my short review:
If you’ve been paying attention, prior to it’s release, Mat D has been sprinkling some of Holyoke‘s songs around for a little while. A couple acoustic tracks of “Roadhouse Shrine”, “Carry Me To Canaan” and the title track “Holyoke” (then titled “Hellbound In Holyoke”) can be found on Mat D’s solo EP, Broken Hymns And Ballads Of The Roadhouse Shrine, and the debut of “Gambling, Girls, & Guns” appeared at CXCW in 2013 (found HERE).
So, I’ve been eagerly waiting to hear the finished and refined studio versions of these songs. It’s amazing to hear a song for the first time in it’s primitive stage, and then watch it evolve into a powerful ensemble of twang and gruff. The “gruff” of course is coming from Mat D’s voice.
Admittedly, on Mat D’s solo efforts, his voice can be a little overbearing. That’s not a slight against Mat, because if you’re really listening to the songs, you can tell that it’s because of the passion that he puts into his music.
Holyoke found a way to evenly mix Mat’s voice. You still hear the passion, you still hear the gruff, except this time it’s evenly blended within the context of the music.
As far as the quality of the songs, Mat D & The Profane Saints have always been top notch in their songwriting and craftsmanship of instrumental work. Kurt Mullins and Jeff Deignan (long time Profane Saints) and new bassist Shawn Blomberg know exactly how to compliment Mat’s ideas and then expound upon them. This is indeed their best effort to date. Things do improve with time and effort, and this album is a shining example of that.
For more info on Mat D & The Profane Saints, check out: