The Alternate Root - April 2017


Malcolm Holcombe (from the album Pretty Little Troubles)

The words of Malcolm Holcombe travel back roads. The tales on Pretty Little Troubles, his latest release, are aimed at lives that exist beyond of city limits. The rhythms shudder and sway as clouds roll by in colors of red, white, and blue in “The Sky Stood Still” while notes and chords quiet to a hush for “Rocky Ground” as neighbors rattle over the finger-picking on “Damn Weeds” and the title track spills its warnings. Malcolm Holcombe is the preacher with a clear understanding of the ways of his flock, a grifter that wins confidence by becoming one with his targets, the narrator that weaves his story so intricately that listeners feel it is their own. Pretty Little Troubles was recorded in The Outlaw Music Sanctuary located at Hippie Jack’s in Crawford, Tennessee with Darrell Scott sitting in the producer chair as well as joining Malcolm’s band backing with piano, jingle bells, electric guitar, banjo, pedal steel and a host of other stringed instruments.

The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina nurtured the spirit found in the words and music of Malcolm Holcombe as he carves his poetry into the stones of high hill country. Malcolm Holcombe sings over a rumble of percussion as he speaks a “Crippled Point of View”. Pretty Little Troubles travels on a Celtic air over to Belfast for the viewing of “The Eyes O’ Josephine”, crosses borders to play a gig in “Bury, England”, and careens down “South Hampton Street” to the sound of a gypsy concertina. Malcolm Holcombe guides memories with rapid wordplay as he recalls “Good Ole Days” while he welcomes the unwanted into the soft embrace of “Yours No More” and closes the door to Pretty Little Troubles as he exits the album citing daily battles that are overcome with the inspiration found in his words on “We Struggle”.

- by Danny McCloseky