Mark "Porkchop" Holder was one of the founding members of Black Diamond Heavies. He recently launched a solo career and has shown himself to be not only a prolific artist but also a very good blues musician. He gives another heavy dose of the blues on his new album Death and the Blues - Holder's second album released this year.
Right from the beginning of the album you hear a rocking boogie-blues sound that is similar to North Mississippi Allstars. "Captain Captain" shows Holder's abilities as a slide guitarist. In fact, he is so good that in the instrumental break, you might just want to close your eyes and appreciate his talents. This song also features a bass line that will get your hips moving and a harmonica part that brings Jon Spencer Blues Explosion to mind.
"Coffin Lid" is another song that makes it impossible to stay still. It features a groovy rhythm that is hard to resist as well Holder's excellent work on the slide guitar. The lyrics are pretty good too. They are about a bad seed who gets thrown in jail for drinking kerosene and vows to carve his initials into someone's coffin lid.
Holder's vocals have a similarity to Mark Sandman of Morphine. You can also hear some similarities in some of the darker melodies. The intro of "Big Boat" sounds like it could be part of a Morphine song.
"Nobody Wants To Cry" has an old-time feel to it. This song features just slide guitar and vocals, and the way it was recorded gives it the feel of a song from the early days of the blues. The only thing missing is the sound of Holder providing the percussion by stomping on an old suitcase.
"Billy the Kid" is a powerful country-blues song. The bass line in this song is straight out of the Johnny Cash songbook. Also like Cash, Holder shows that he is pretty capable of telling a dark story with a catchy melody.
This is a blues album, but it's not a traditional blues album. It's blues with a healthy dose of greasy rock and roll. That being said, Holder shows that he deserves consideration when people start talking about great modern-blues guitarists. Death and The Blues (Alive Naturalsound Records) will be available everywhere on Nov. 3.