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MALCOLM HOLCOMBE —PRETTY LITTLE TROUBLES (Gypsy Eyes Music)

 

www.malcolmholcombe.com

 

 

North Carolina born, and raised singer-songwriter Malcolm Holcombe has been making wonderful albums since the mid-1990s, and one or two more before that. 

Produced by fellow singer-songwriter recording artist Darrell Scott Pretty Little Troubles is a quality piece. Holcombe has held the multi-talented Scott in high regard for a long time, and someone he claims to listen to more than anyone else. Speaking about their relationship in the studio Holcombe told the Knoxville News ‘It’s good to get another angle, another perspective, but I can’t keep my mouth shut. I got some ideas, too. I’ve known Darrell for a long time and he’s a real gifted feller.’

Little changes from album to another, Holcombe’s vocals are as rough edged as ever, and just as we like them. If anything he sounds a little subdued on Pretty Little Troubles, the explosion of his guitar, and wild rambling isn’t as pronounced as on some records. As a result his diction is clearer. With a bunch of guests on the album, Scott and his old friend, tour partner (sideman) Jared Tyler there is a great deal to savour, and more subtly as he weaves through his catalogue of 12 songs. I believe more thought than ever before has gone into the album than ever before, after several listens I believe here we have one of his finest, more cultured (and restrained) offerings ever.  

 

Among his finest efforts I would have to include “Bury, England”, and set to a merry lick “Good Ole Days” (Scott, banjo and the terrific upright bass of Crouch propel the song) and with mention of an Irish girl you have the entertaining “The Eyes O’ Josephine”, on which he calls on the musical prowess of Mike McGoldrick (Uilleann whistles, pipes). Nice it is too. Scott on this one performs some superb acoustic guitar and mandola. Holcombe might be best known for his blues stained country folk, but here he shows a liking to music this side of the pond. It is short lived, on this album at least, since he follows it with music better known to him. “The Sky Stood Still” possesses some wonderful picking as Scott (pedal steel, baritone electric guitar), Marco Giovino (percussion) and Jonathan Yudkin (string arrangement, violin, viola and cello) give the album a terrific life and Holcombe is certainly up for the challenge. In fact I would be tempted to say he pulls out all the stops!   

 

Among the most memorable tracks you have the tortured ballad “South Hampton Street” (featuring Joey Miskulin on accordion, plus dobro from Tyler) and sweet toned “Rocky Ground”; it isn’t the only time Holcombe speaks of hard times and all that goes with it. On this occasion he travels deep into America’s southern states for some more bluesy tones. It is arguably his finest, most vivid piece of songwriting (with Jelly Roll Johnson on harmonica and Tyler on mandolin and, harmony vocals w/ Scott). What a poetic composition (and playing). Up there with them all you also have “Yours No More”, draped in wondrous harmony vocals (Scott, Tyler and Verlon Thompson) Holcombe digs deep, and with him focussing on the part of the immigrant he brings something topic and timeless to the table. What a fine piece of writing.   

Going back to “Bury, England” it is good to hear him speak of his time touring in England, bad coffee, how he played some songs with JT, and reminisces of how he heard come from the speakers before their set Guy Clark’s “The Randal Knife” and “L.A Freeway” to steal the show before they struck a note. Nice touch, Malcolm.

 

                                                                       Maurice Hope    

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This site is the sister site to The House Concert Hub community and has been inherited in the main by kind donation of Shaun Belcher and Trailer Star.

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1
Rod Picott
70 pts.
Out Past The Wires
Welding Rod Music
GC,AN,LM,SZ,TK
2
JW Roy & The Royal Family
62 pts.
A Room Full Of Strangers
Royal Family Records
EM,PJ,DH
3
Steph Cameron
61 pts.
Daybreak over Jackson Street
Pheromona
ML
4
JD McPherson
54 pts.
Undivided Heart & Soul
New West
AR,RK,LK
5
Sarah Morris
53 pts.
Hearts In Need Of Repair
Independent
 
6
Turnpike Troubadours
52 pts.
Long Away From Your Heart
Bossier City Records
MA,GF
7
Chris Hillman
51 pts.
Bidin' My Time
Rounder
 
8
Hayward Williams
39 pts.
Pretenders
Why River Records
KG,JB,JBO
9
Joe Henry
38 pts.
Thrum
Ear Music
 
10
Jim White
37 pts.
Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Loose Music
JJ
12
Margo Price
35 pts.
All American Made
Third Man Records
 
11
Mark Martyre
35 pts.
Rivers
Independent
MF
13
Mavis Staples
32 pts.
If All I Was Was Black
Anti
HO
 
Peter Oren
32 pts.
Anthropocene
Western Vinyl
RB,HB
15
Fred Wickham
29 pts.
Mariosa Delta
Thirty Days Records
 
16
Jeffrey Martin
27 pts.
One Go Around
Fluff & Gravy Records
HDB
17
Blitzen Trapper
25 pts.
Wild and Reckless
Lojinx
JDO
 
Jeff Crosby
25 pts.
Postcards From Magdalena
At The Helm Records
FCE,FC,JS
19
Dori Freeman
24 pts.
Letters Never Read
Blue Hens Music
 
 
Hardpan
24 pts.
Hardpan
Blue Rose Records
WR
21
The Deep Dark Woods
21 pts.
Yarrow
Six Shooter
JF
22
Lilly Hiatt
20 pts.
Trinity Lane
New West
TJ
 
Tom Russell
20 pts.
Folk Hotel
Frontera Records-Proper Records
JAB
24
Eilen Jewell
19 pts.
Down Hearted Blues
Signature Sounds
MW
25
Dick LeMasters
18 pts.
Incompatible Things
Longneck Road Music
FS

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