Another Black Hole

Release Date: February 12th, 2016



BIO

Acclaimed singer-songwriter Malcolm Holcombe, whose “heartfelt baritone” (NPR) delivers “haunted country, acoustic blues and rugged folk” (Rolling Stone), will release his 14th studio album, Another Black Hole (Gypsy Eyes Music), February 12, 2016. 

Produced by Grammy-winning producer and engineer Ray Kennedy and Brian Brinkerhoff, Another Black Hole features Holcombe’s rasping vocals and bright, percussive guitar accentuating his insightful lyrics. “It is Malcolm’s perception of the world that make his songs hit you like a gunpowder blast. His gruff and tough delivery is a primordial power full of grit, spit and anthropomorphic expression,” says Kennedy.

Recorded at Room & Board Studios in Nashville, TN, and the 10-song set features longtime musical compatriots including Jared Tyler (dobro, baritone guitar, banjo, mandolin and harmony vocals), Dave Roe (upright and electric bass), Ken Coomer (drums and percussion), Tony Joe White (electric guitar), Future Man (percussion) and Drea Merritt (vocal harmony).

Born and raised in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, Holcombe is highly regarded and recognized by contemporaries in Americana music including Emmylou Harris, Wilco, Steve Earle. An “emotionally captivating” (Isthmus), performer, Holcombe has shared the stage with Merle Haggard, Richard Thompson, John Hammond, Leon Russell, Wilco and Shelby Lynne.

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In the end, who can explain the secret of endurance? Why does one marriage last and another does not? Why does one song or album catch our ear while others, arguably as good, slip past us? What convinces an artist or musician to continue pursuing the craft in a time of audiences with short attention spans and diminishing financial returns?

On the eve of releasing Another Black Hole, his fourteenth album (including a duet album cut with North Carolina music legend Sam Milner back in the 80s), Malcolm Holcombe is in no mood to ponder such things. “They’re free to like it or change the CD or completely ignore it,” he says over the telephone from New Haven, CT. “It all depends on how bad their conscience is.”

Those who have paid attention to Holcombe’s music will find more of what they expect here: Holcombe’s rasping vocals and bright, percussive guitar accentuating his insightful lyrics. A few of Holcombe’s longtime musical compatriots show up to help him out, most notably Jared Tyler, who plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, dobro and offers background harmonies and rock solid rhythm section David Roe on bass and Ken Coomer on drums. Swamp pop legend Tony Joe White plays electric guitar on a number of cuts, including the hard rocking “Papermill Man,” and the visionary percussionist Futureman, also known as Roy Wooten, inventor of the drumitar, lends percussion on several cuts. Drea Merritt drops by to sing harmonies as well.

Last year, Holcombe released The RCA Sessions, a retrospective of his two decades of recordings. For most of this time, Malcolm has handled his own career from his hometown of Swannanoa, NC, a few miles down the road from Weaverville, where he was born in 1955. Another Black Hole does not indicate a change of direction for Holcombe, only a widening and deepening of the groove he has worked for most of his years playing and singing. Lyrically, the songs mingle Holcombe’s off the cuff wisdom and sharp-eyed commentary on the human condition. Without staking a political or spiritual position, Holcombe’s songs make it clear that he sees his place with those who suffer at the end of the “suits and ties in the cubicles,” as he sings in “To Get By.” But because he sees things in human terms and in the terms of survival, Holcombe heads down to “Rice’s Grocery down on Main Street/ We got credit there.”

Ray Kennedy, who has produced several of Malcolm’s albums, including Another Black Hole, says, “Malcolm Holcombe is fiercely striking every time you encounter him on or off stage. You just get sucked into his extraordinary world of the twisting of words and wisdom that come from a bottomless well. The melodies and fierce rhythms wrap his narrative into an event where you find yourself at his unique musical carnival. Then suddenly he slays you with a sweet love ballad or a sarcastic social commentary.”

In “Leavin’ Anna,” Holcombe croons “A working man’s a working man/ Makes the flowers grow.” The laborers, the displaced, the papermill worker, the man who spends “nickels and dimes like hundred dollar bills,” these are Malcolm Holcombe’s people and the ones who live in his songs. But he is far less interested in talking about his own songs than in talking about other musicians whose names come up in the course of a conversation.

When country singing legend Don Williams is mentioned, Malcolm says, “I used to listen to that Portrait album all the time,” and asks if Williams played a couple of his more popular songs in a recent concert. He also speaks fondly of Les Paul and, later, of Keith Richards: “He’s rock and roll all day long, ain’t he?”

Recently Warren Haynes, another musician native to western North Carolina, has mentioned Malcolm’s name in interviews. Typically, Holcombe was unaware of this, but filled with praise for Haynes. “He’s a real gentleman. I’m glad to call him a friend,” he says. “He taught me how to bend a string on a guitar.”

Chances are that Another Black Hole will not be mentioned at Grammy time, but it is a strong addition to an ever-strengthening catalogue of music made by a humble craftsman in western North Carolina. “It is Malcolm’s perception of the world that make his songs hit you like a gunpowder blast. His gruff and tough delivery is a primordial power full of grit, spit and anthropomorphic expression,” says Ray Kennedy. Trends come and go. What is real is the ground beneath our feet, the sky above us, the struggle to earn a living. These are Malcolm Holcombe’s timeless subjects and the spin he puts on them makes our journey here more bearable.

Al Maginnes


LYRICS

sweet georgia

sharpenin' knives
train wheels movin'
thru my ears and spine
leavin' you still

small town darkness
and a heartbreak homeless
too early in the mornin' 
for the memories

you know it's hard to remember
the sidewalk talkin'
another last cigarette
sucks for a change

chorus
come around sweet georgia
round in the mornin'
your daddy's gonna fly
when your mama's gone

lovin' songs 'bout dyin'
and angry eyes starin'
at the cheap thin walls
and the cobweb corners

cant ya hear cant ya see
cant ya feel your knees buckle
in the shuffle o' your feet
and the misery doubles

chorus

eagle eye wichita
God's law help me out
gonna catch ya with yo' pants down
run if you can

chorus
chorus

c. 2015 gypsy eyes music, bmi

malcolm holcombe

 

another black hole

i feel like a stranger on the south boulevard
chicago buzz in the water
he crossed the street to the nines lookin' harder
livin' in another black hole livin' in another black hole

laughin' drunk ahead o' the others
me and you in a hole in the wall
strapped tight undercover
livin' in another black hole livin' in another black hole

chorus
the radio plays for the happy go lucky
that aint my set o' wheels
drag me down the road to get even
livin' in another black hole livin' in another black hole

the past has a smell and a one way ticket
to leave you standin' still
on the side o' the road in a new york minute
livin' in another black hole livin' in another black hole

that dollar store streetlight whisperin' cheap
words stuck in the air
your piss poor listenin' so debonair
livin' in another black hole livin' in aother black hole

chorus

we got it made in the shade lil' brother
dont you worry at all
i know alot you jus' suffer and call it
livin' in another black hole livin' in another black hole

chorus
chorus

c. 2015 gypsy eyes music, bmi

malcolm holcombe

 

to get by

washin' up them dirty ol' dishes
mama's good china washed away in the flood
ev'ry drop o' my common sense
never was good enough

to get by to get by
to get by lord to get by

i scribbled down some grocery list
the kind on the frigidaire
rice's grocery down on main street
we got credit there

to get by to get by
to get by lord to get by

too young to buy cigarettes
so i stole em for a friend o' mine
he dont breathe too good these days
but aint givin' up tryin'

to get by to get by
to get by lord to get by

chorus
the power of youth runs by and by
stuck in a revolvin' door
some high falutin' trick in my mind
always cries out for more

to get by to get by

dem bells and whistles they talk money
for the suits and ties in the cubicles
oldtime mem'ries soon forgotten
we use to jus' make do

to get by to get by
to get by lord to get by

egyptians mummified their dead
the roman empire flourished
all them after life possessions
makes me old and foolish

to get by to get by
to get by lord to get by

chorus

to get by to get by

now

a dollar burns a hole in my pocket
from the magazines o' the american dream
the grass is always greener
on my neighbor's property

to get by to get by
to get by lord to get by

chorus
to get by to get by

chorus
to get by to get by

c. 2014 gypsy eyes music, bmi

malcolm holcombe

 

heidleberg blues

intro

hide your bones among the castles
when the bombs fall once again
go live among the ruins
of the never changin' wind

the trains dont run on time i know
like the bells upon the hills
they set your mind in motion
with the morning whipporwills

the streets came fast and winding
from town to town to here
i pray out loud too quickly
then slowly disappear

no sins among the fathers
can n'er be to be forgot
but no innocence is lost in
the wonder of the stars

intro

let me choose the high road
to listen to the words
of ones who lived before me
and died in heidelburg

the shadows gently swallow
the night so incomplete
without your hand to guide me
and hold me as i sleep 

i'm not afraid to suffer
the scorn between your lips
the morning is the morning
and heidleberg is yours

i tried to do a demon's work
and bare the cross of fate
my God in heav'n judge my curse
and my time in heidleberg

how many souls will never know
the springtime once again
how many empty hearts will cry
they were in heidleberg


c. 2015 gypsyeyes music, bmi

malcolm holcombe

 

don't play around

chorus
mcmurtry don't play around like i use to
when push comes to shove
gotta keep my mouth shut
baby how 'bout you

mathew spends them nickles and dimes
like hundred dollar bills
helpin' babies too special for crazy
government deals

aint a state in the union 'been crusin' thru
on easy street
fuckin' damn frackin' and backroom stabbin'
knocks me down on my knees

chorus

california wanna be's and midwest muscles
stick close to the ground
feedin' the famine in my backyard
non profit town

nine miles deep there's a pile o' cash
headin' overseas
gotta fill up my tank shake hands at the bank
goin' back east

chorus

annie's settin' in jail for another twelve years
yaknow it coulda been me
damn drugs and guns and one night lovin' gonna set you free

harry's born ready for the end o' time
he's a millionaire
when they come up from atlanta to steal his food
you gonna feel the fire

chorus

she was only fourteen in '65
you know a change is comin'
twenty-six stiches in the back o' her head
On a bridge in selma

chorus
chorus

 

c. gypsy eyes music, bmi

malcolm holcombe

 

someone missin' 

fifteen years and the walls are thin
in a double-wide upon the hill
not a single thing i do is right
always fightin' to belong

weekends come and go by slow
like ev'ry day i feel alone
not knowin' what the future holds
for me and her again

chorus
michigan mama said it was so cold
but how's a baby s'posed to know
when someone's missin'
and it's a bumpy ride outta town
it's a bumpy ride way outta town

there's a slew o' folks they come and go
i learned to sing and dance a joke
to make her laugh and hold me close
before i lay me down

this restless feelin' feeds the fever
i cant even understand
the conversations late at night
twixt mama and a man

chorus

these angry voices disappear
when words i find my mind to hear
inside my head i bring 'em clear
to keep us all together

chorus
chorus

c. 2013 gypsyeyes music, bmi

malcolm holcombe

 

papermill man

bumper to bumper goin' west in the rain
slowin' down when the bottom fell out
you can smell that money goin' round and round
dirty smoke blowin' up in the air
dirty smoke blowin' up in the air

there was a one room shack and a one room school
bad new in the pigeon river
sawmill sawdust stuck in your lungs
and your head cant hear it thunder
no your head cant hear it thunder

chorus
do you live to eat
do you eat to live
for a dollar a day on the river
damn vanderbilt's hold the keys to the city
eat your supper son and forget it

speakin' in tongues strung out on the gospel
somethin' i know nuthin' about
he knew ev'ry word to the great speckled bird
mister 40 year papermill man
he was a fourty year papermill man

third shift sunrise mouths to feed
puttin' food on the table amen
blood's thicker than water when ya give a damn
mister 40 year papermill man
he was a forty year papermill man

chorus

instrumental-verse/chorus

one son of a gun another man o' God
knows ev'ry nail and dime
that was driven and spent from the ground up to heaven
for a 40 year papermill man
he was a forty year papermill man

there's a power more greater than me an' you
there's plan i jus' dont understand
that sawmill blade made a bird in the hand
for a 40 year papermill man
he was a forty year papermill man

chorus
chorus

c. gypsy eyes music, bmi

malcolm holcombe

 

september

september keeps missin'
someone in your arms
someone you remember
for always

the garden of roses
lay red on the ground
the frozen souls
and their voices

the nicotine shade
cannot cover the window
the sunset besets you
to gaze

impossible places
where bitterness waits
to carry you deeper
insane

chorus
so lay down in your head
your mouth cannot move
the heart's of the dead
leave you empty

now i curse and i beg
as september i dread
the shackles too heavy
to reason

to hell with you
and your selfish bad luck
and your pity for me is just
wasted

now i curse and i beg
as september i dread
the shackles too heavy
to reason

chorus

c. 2-15 gypsyeyes music, bmi

malcolm holcombe

 

leavin' anna

the florida sunshine baked my bones
all my life i been cold
bronchitus winston cigarettes
i layed in bed alone

a texas smile and a backbone heart
stole me from my home
one more city and one less child
we traveled where the money was good

chorus
new york city lights stay on
an' philadelphia knows
a workin' man is a workin' man
makes a delicate flower grow

cormac words too many to read
livin' in my mind
secrets stashed on top o' the others
troubles left behind

aint a soul on earth i can call a friend
when darkness settles in
another man with another job
dont help me in my pain

chorus

God helps you when ya help yourself
how's he gonna help me
that boy o' mine thinks double time
an' a nobody thinks o' me

anna cried all the rivers wide
from the rio grand to here
homes got flooded and people got drowned
leavin' anna sufferin

chorus
chorus

c. 2015 gypsyeyes music, bmi

malcolm holcombe

 

way behind

it used to be the east side
that drug me down too far
i wallowed in my bad moves
and hollered in the dark

spent all my time dyin'
and losin' ev'ry thought
of a precious tiny hand
holdin' on and turnin' cold

chorus
beatin' up ol memories
of never good enough
leavin' all the laughter
and your kindness way behind

it used to be the squandered
dollars from your sweat
and the last words that i heard
goin' out the door you said

now the neighbors all remember
the fancy funeral homes
i never set a foot in
to comfort anyone

chorus

Lord have mercy now and then
when shadows follow clouds
too heavy with my tears
to hold back even now

you can listen to the stories
gettin' thru another day
without you without you
in the blues

chorus
chorus

c. 2015 gypsyeyes music, bmi

malcolm holcombe

 

when you smile

you lay in bed so quietly
eyes wide open softly
the wind blows outside hardly
even noticed by my ears

ev'ry evenin' comes
and evry evenin' goes
too quickly for the moments
i catch you in my mind

bridge
my heaven on earth when you smile
you're my heaven on earth when you smile

your words so carefully
your movement easily
your always present laughter
still holdin' me to please

not knowin' far away
not knowin' where i lay
not even between breathin' weighs
as much as how i feel

bridge

chorus
the doctrines and the dogma(s)
the rules of love forgotten
the silent cryin' nights so lost in
bringin' back the past

you are you of many
you are true to plenty
you are more than every dream
 and every tear completes

bridge

chorus

first verse

bridge
bridge

c. 2015 gypsy eyes music, bmi

malcolm holcombe