My first taste of this album came from a solo performance from Mat D (Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo) that was featured on CXCW last year, at that time the focus and intention for Holyoke was to record it as a solo album, then during rehearsals the decision was made to switch to a full band sound and even though much of the recording work had being done the original recordings were effectively scrapped and work started anew with the Profrane Saints; Kurt Mullins (Fretless Bass, Lead Electric Guitar, Keys), Jeff Deignan (Drums and Percussion), Shawn Blomberg (Bass Guitar).
The death of Mat’s Father in 2008 and then his Grandfather in 2011 resulted in several somber road trips to his home state of Colarado, on one trip back home from Denver Mat spotted a sign from the interstate, “Holyoke – there’s nothing holy about this landscape…it all seems so forsaken…so barren.” and so the album was named and takes it’s lyrical inspiration from the desert prairie landscape of Eastern Colorado, Western Nebraska and the Black Hills of South Dakota drawing stories and themes out of the local vistas, legends and myths. The resulting album is unapologetic in it’s delivery, Mat D’s vocal jumps out of the speakers taking no prisoners and the instruments play loud in an attempt to reign him in – turn it up loud and let yourself be transported to a raucous roadhouse of dubious repute somewhere of a dusty blacktop (I’ll be in the corner, trying to look inconspicuous)
For a taste of some of the songs in solo mode you can stream and download Broken Hymns and Ballads of the Roadhouse Shrine at Bandcamp – and check-out volume 2 and 3 whilst you’re there too.
From 2013 CXCW performance, Gambling Girls and Guns