music-news.com - May 12, 2017
Pretty Little Troubles
I love to get a new Malcolm Holcombe for review; he has never let me down in the past and he sure as heck doesn’t this time.
Last year’s release, ‘Another Black Hole’, was one of my albums of the year and here he has teamed up with producer Darrell Scott to make one that is at least as good.
Holcombe’s ‘voice’ is not exactly musical but he carries emotion more poignantly than the finest of opera baritones and his songs resonate with the hardships and desperation of the Blue Ridge Mountains where he was raised but he also paints pictures of the positivity of striving to survive.
Here he opens with a chiller of a number in ‘Crippled Point O’ View’ with Jelly Roll Johnson’s harmonica creating a lonely place. ‘Yours No More’ is a tribute to the immigrants and refugees who have worked so hard to make America the strong state it is today.
When he livens things up as on ‘Good Ole Days’ there is still a sharp and cutting turn of phrase as what sounds like a fun bit of bluegrass looks at the problems of the good old days – seriously sarcastic and brilliant for it.
The title track has a jaunty lift to it but those sardonic vocals tell the story very differently while ‘Bury England’ tells the tale of a gig in …. Bury, England.
Malcolm Holcombe is a unique songwriter, never sorry for himself but often filled with righteous anger at the state of the world and the unfair hardships that he and his people have had to struggle through. The important thing, for me, is that there is no sense of whingeing or moaning and he makes music that is all the stronger for it.
The album is flawless, swimming in integrity and beautifully played. Another masterpiece.
- by Andy Snipper