Music-news.com - review (5 stars) - January 2016
Gypsy Eyes (label) - 19 February 2016 (released)
Holcombe is one of those names that I look out for and he never fails to deliver. This is his 14th album and every time I go through it I come away with a little more appreciation of his songwriting and guitar playing, all buried under that voice, rasping and breathy and sounding as though he had smoked a million cigarettes – this week.
He is a storyteller and all of the 10 tracks give you a picture of another piece of North Carolina life, not easy and never as simple as you first imagine and I must admit that you begin to get the mood of the song before understanding the theme but I also found myself wanting to get deeper into his music as the album went on.
All of the 10 songs here were written by Holcombe but he is aided by some stellar musicians in Jared Tyler (guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro), David Roe (bass) & Ken Coomer (drums) while Tony Joe White plays on a number of the tracks, Ray Wooten adds percussion and Drea Merritt sings harmonies on a few. White’s guitar on ‘Papermill Man’ is stunning.
The songs all talk to the hardships of life but they also show that there is redemption to be found in 40 years hard work. He sings about labourers, men who work on the paper mills, men who are displaced by the march of technology or mortgages and his music backs up the tales in his lyrics.
I would say that there are only a few in the roots/Americana field that I would grab as soon as they are available but Malcolm Holcombe is one of the very best.
If he is only ever remembered for one song then it should be ‘September’ which is so dark and eerie that it is impossible to listen to only once – in my opinion it should be up there as one of the songs of the year.