Flying Shoes Review - January 2016
It is always a thrill to receive a new Malcolm Holcombe album, the intensity of the music, the relentless rhythm, amazing lyrics coupled with a voice that’s as sharp as barbed-wired soaked in whiskey and only let loose on weekends.
Holcombe’s live shows have become legendary, sat with his acoustic guitar across his body, rocking back and forth with much energy and his head doing likewise. Intense hasn’t a look in when it comes to Malcolm Holcombe’s music. Here it is pretty much the same (though toned down in comparison), only he has taken the liberty of adding a little more pep to a couple of songs I would rather he didn’t. It isn’t I have anything against swamp fox Tony Joe White getting into the act, only he doesn’t need to be a bit of a rocker, his music is spicy enough. It only becomes a little cluttered to the detriment of his lyrics, and an acoustic base made up of his good friend Jared Tyler (Dobro, baritone guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmony vocals), Dave Roe (upright, electric bass), Ken Coomer (drums, percussion) plus Future Man (Roy Wooten), Drea Merritt (harmony vocals) percussion. Maybe he felt he needed to flex a few additional muscles on a couple of numbers.
As for the songs, the album consists of ten self-penned compositions, and despite a reservation or two they are up to his usual high standard as he blends words of eclectic wisdom with everyday people’s happenings, and on coming down from a Holcombe high he comes up with such staggering pieces as “To Get By”, “Sweet Georgia” and to a lesser degree “Leavin’ Anna”; the easy rolling melodies greater than some things people have sacrificed their all.
Others of note include slow paced sombre, evocative offering “Heidelberg Blues” and with the above keener rocking beat “Don’t Play Around” comes across good. But not to the degree of the above or “Someone Missing” as Malcolm sets off on one of his exciting (and exhilarating) journeys with the aid of multi-picker Tyler, to strike gold.
“Papermill Man” has a rockin soul tinged sound run through it as in the company of White, Futureman and fine voiced Merritt he takes a trip, music wise into the hustle of the city. Be sure to watch out for tour dates in the UK during May.
- Maurice Hope