Blues Magazine (NL) - May 16, 2017
Another simply wonderful release from one of North Carolina’s genuine originals, a guy who is pretty much without peer these days. Malcolm Holcombe has a voice that is pure gravel and grit, smoky and smoke-fuelled, always edgy, blisteringly demanding and decidedly different. Produced by Americana master-musician and singer-songwriter Darrell Scott, Holcombe is perfectly matched here in the studio by a producer who is at the top of his game in and as part of the Nashville machine.
Holcombe himself seems to have surfaced fully formed, with a song-writing mastery and mystery that few, if any, of his current US contemporaries can match. Rolling Stone magazine in the US has described him as ‘….haunted country, acoustic blues and rugged folk,’ an enviable accolade that aptly illustrates his current importance and place in the US music world.
‘Pretty Little Troubles’ is possibly his finest release so far, following on from the past two highly praised offerings, ‘Gambling House’ and ‘The RCA Sessions.’ This is music delivered with raucous, raw vocals, storytelling lyrics that often surprise and always engage, and fine blues-undercurrents wrapped together with fine fretwork and acoustic picking that is both gripping and grizzled.
Holcombe is a modern musical troubadour who readily touches parts others never get near, and who, without fail, produces the real-deal, rumbling acoustic music with meaning and memorable flair. ‘Pretty Little Troubles’ is a great album, a positive must-have for anyone who loves and values originality and sparkle with a traditional acoustic, country-blues grounding.
- by Iain Patience