The Rocking Magpie - January 2016

Malcolm Holcombe
Another Black Hole

Blue Collar Songs to Soothe Your Soul and Warm Your Heart.

Malcolm Holcombe has a voice that’s not just ‘lived in;’ but bordering on being shot through but I for one love it to bits.

This is Malcolm’s fourteenth album release and right from opening track Sweet Georgia you just know that this is going to be something really special. There’s a snappy banjo/guitar beat accompanying him as he purrs the lyrics like a man on his deathbed.

The title track Another Black Hole, follows and just may be one of Holcombe’s finest songs. Always incredibly observant in his stories; this one has as much minutiae in each line as a Mark Twain novel and you can imagine the anger in his furrowed brow as he delivers lines like ‘radio plays for the happy-go-lucky/Drag me down a road to get even/for living in another black hole.’

I don’t really remember Malcolm delving too far back in his own history on previous albums; but on To Get By his tale of hardship has uncanny parallels with people living in Industrial towns all around the world in 2016. Try listening to ‘the power of youth runs by and by/stuck in a revolving door’ and ‘a dollar burns a hole in my pocket/for a magazine promising the American Dream’ and tell me I’m wrong.

I like the way Malcolm introduces jagged electric guitars on a few songs to highlight the darkly ragged stories. The best example would probably be on Don’t Play Around; when Tony Joe White guests. The song also includes some very effective ‘industrial language’ that shows the young Alt. Country upstarts that there is plenty of life left in this old dog.

Sometimes Malcolm gets so involved in his songs; you can’t always make out all of the words; but that’s not always the point as Someone Missing and Papermill Man actually prove; as what you can hear added to the passionate delivery leave you in no doubt these songs are honest and real to the max.’ On that latter song, we even get to hear soulful female backing singers; which is a first as far as I can remember and makes the song sound truly excellent.

While Bruce and Neil are hailed for writing ‘Blue Collar/Working Man’ songs; but you just know that Malcolm has actually stood side by side with the disenfranchised when he sings ‘A working man is a working Man/Makes the delicate flowers grow’ in Leavin’ Anna. There’s only ever been a handful of songwriters who can write words like this and make the listener ‘believe’ and Malcolm Holcombe is right up there with the best.

OK; he’s no Justin Bieber in looks or deeds; but if you love Americana or Folk songs written from the very bottom of a writers heart and sung with more passion than you will find in Clinton Cards on Valentine’s Day; then Malcolm Holcombe is the man for you.

Released February 12th 2016