Michael Holland

Simple Truths and Pleasures (Moll Records)

North Carolina native Michael Holland has been an Americana sensation for more than 15 years, both as a solo performer and as a member of the acclaimed Jennyanykind. His most recent effort, Simple Truths and Pleasures, may be the best overall collection of folk, bluegrass and country he's ever put together.

Starting with the hard-core country weeper "How Long Will She Make Me Wait?" and concluding with "Life of Ease," there simply isn't a bum track in the bunch. Holland's appealing, reedy voice conveys the natural splendor and pain of the rural experience like legends Hank Williams Sr. and Merle Haggard. Add in a top-flight group of fingerpickers (John Garris on Dobro and Carl Jones on mandolin) and this is about as close to hayseed nirvana as one is likely to find.

Holland's work has been described as "pre-Nashville," and that is certainly a compliment considering the slick brand of shit coming out of there. Holland's sincerity of expression has absolutely nothing to do with the trench coats, fake patriotism and mullets of current country. Simple Truths and Pleasures is a rare example of truth in advertising, a paean to a time when music was made for back porches and barn raisings instead of beer commercials.

 
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