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 - 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

Americana UK - May 8, 2017

Malcolm Holcombe “Pretty Little Troubles” (Gypsy Eyes Music, 2017)

For those not familiar with Malcolm Holcombe, he is somewhat of an institution. There aren’t many artists that can say they’ve had a career quite like him and after 20 years and 15 studio recordings, he’s still going as strong as ever and continuing to expand on the vast body of work he has built. The production on the record is crisp and clean and allows room for the impressive guitar skills of Holcombe to shine through along with some subtle and perfectly placed harmonica to compliment the gravelly, whiskey-drenched and rough-around-the-edges vocals we’ve come to expect from him.
That being said, at times and even with the quality of the production on the record, it is difficult to understand the lyrics and can make the songs a tough listen, however, these moments are few and far between and display a level of authenticity often brushed over or touched up on modern recordings if nothing else.
The record kicks off with a classic blues number Crippled Point O’ View and for the next few tracks, we are treated to a brief showcase of sorts, demonstrating the variety of styles which he is able to lend his talents to and the versatility he has to offer. From the tender ballad Yours No More, through the foot-stomping, bluegrass number Good Ole Days and finishing up with the infectious Outta Luck, the variety on offer throughout this record is impressive to say the least and really cements Holcombe as more than just a country-blues singer as opposed to a multi-faceted artist who has honed his craft over the course of many years in the game. However, these aren’t the only highlights of the record and the diversity never slows up, as further down the line there is album namesake and brilliant walking-blues number Pretty Little Troubles and a tale of a trip to a quaint UK town in Bury, England featuring some brilliant anecdotes about “the worst cup o’ coffee” he ever had to drink, amongst other things. Holcombe is at his best on tracks like these when he is playing his own brand of the blues and finding humour in the more troubling times whilst delivering them in such a colloquial manner that you almost feel like you’re right there with him trading stories.
Overall, ‘Pretty Little Troubles’ is a solid record and a great addition to an ever-growing discography from a man that never seems short of an interesting story to tell and I’m sure it won’t be long before we hear from him again.

Summary: Malcolm Holcombe produces another solid collection of anecdotal folk-blues on his 15th studio recording.

- by David Stevenson

Lonesome Highway (Ireland) - May 3rd, 2017

Malcolm Holcombe Pretty Little Troubles Singular

There is little doubt that Holcombe has his detractors as well as his admirers. His grit and gravel sandpaper voice is not to everyone’s taste, but those that do fall under his spell seem to be growing and he has certainly been prolific of late with a number of albums to his credit over the last few years. This time out noted artist in his own right Darrell Scott has taken on the production duties. Holcombe’s bluesy tales, his own pretty little troubles, are as often about the world around him and how it is being eroded (Yours No More, Good Ole Days, Damn Weeds) as about his own life and times (Crippled Point O’ View, Outta Luck), some of the songs encompass both.

However these tales of woe are given a musical setting that always make them never less than interesting with a wide range of instruments adding substance and sustenance to the hardworn nature of the music. Many of the instruments are played by Scott himself but with major contributions from Jelly Roll Johnson, Joey Miskulin, Verlon Thompson and Denis Crouch. Mike McGoldrick brings a distinctly Celtic flavour to The Eyes O’ Josephine with Uilleann pipes, which makes that song an immediate standout. Yet in the end it is Holcombe’s voice which is the most prominent feature of the tracks and the success of the album will largely depend on your liking for that particular vocal inflection.

For those that do like this sound, Pretty Little Troubles is a compelling album that employs all the skills of its participants to best advantage which makes it a highpoint of Holcombe recorded output. His pretty little troubles have produced some nuanced and balanced personal and unique representations of the blues that are as effective as many of the more applauded practitioners of that often ignored genre. Malcolm Holcombe continues to do it his own way. Singular indeed.

- by Stephen Rapid

Country Standard Time - May 2nd, 2017

Malcolm Holcombe's voice leaves him sounding much like an ancient Mississippi bluesman for much of "Pretty Little Troubles." (In fact, the album's title cut is an acoustic blues workout that previews what John Hiatt might well sound like, say, 30 years from now). Holcombe even gets into character, playing the role of what sounds like a sharecropper's fate during "Rocky Ground," where this characteristic working man sings of both tobacco fields and loved ones. The latter also trades in acoustic blues for something a little more country, as the track is highlighted by steel guitar and harmonica.

"Pretty Little Troubles" isn't exactly what one would term an uplifting work. Many of these musical sketches are put to bluesy grooves because, well, Holcombe is mostly singing the blues. Furthermore, Holcombe's voice is permanently portraying a man of constant sorrow, seemingly in constant pain. "The Eyes O'Josephine," with its Irish folk song arrangement, is a welcome break from this otherwise mostly bleak Southern trudge. It sounds somewhat like what an Irish-inspired song from Steve Earle might sound like these days with his time-ravaged voice.

Between lines during "Bury, England," the listener can hear Holcombe breathing heavily as he sings at one point about a detestable smoking habit. Let's hope he's not speaking/singing biographically. Perhaps this is simply his chosen vocal style.

The music filling out "Pretty Little Troubles" concerns few topics either 'pretty' or 'little.' It is, though, as real and tangible as the rocky ground.

- by Dan MacIntosh

Knoxville News Sentinel - April 13, 2017

Malcolm Holcombe is the sort of songwriter other songwriters revere. The title might be tossed around loosely for others, but he’s the sort who gets called “the real deal” for a reason. His songs ring true. There’s a sense of place. His depiction of growing up in Appalachia isn’t affected, but there’s also a universality that anyone can get.

At the moment, though, “the real deal” is cleaning out his car in Swannanoa, N.C., where he lives. The spotty cellphone reception makes Holcombe’s voice even more craggy and slurred than it is in normal conversation. He laughs easily, though, and he recognizes that the voice on the other end is familiar.

“There’s a lot of folks who’ve been really good to me,” says Holcombe. “Knoxville has been mighty good, unless they lose a football game!”

Holcombe laughs, talking about UT football fans.

“When I lived in Nashville I had a next-door neighbor who painted his house orange and white.”

Holcombe has just released his new album, “Pretty Little Troubles,” produced by fellow singer-songwriter-instrumentalist great Darrell Scott.

Holcombe has worked on his own and with producers for years. He says there are definitely advantages to working with producers.

“It’s good to get another angle, another perspective,” he says. “But I can’t keep my mouth shut. I got some ideas, too. … I’ve known Darrell for a long time and he’s a real gifted feller. It’s a real privilege to work with him.”

Scott has praised Holcombe long before he signed on to produce the album, saying in an earlier interview, “I listen to him more than I listen to anybody. I just love his writing.”

Holcombe was born in Asheville, N.C., and raised in Weaverville, N.C. He played with Asheville bands The Hilltoppers and Redwing when he was a teenager, but moved on to performing solo shows as a singer-songwriter.

He says the music of Flatt and Scruggs and dobro player Josh Graves really caught his ear while growing up in the 1970s.

“It wasn’t puberty music,” says Holcombe. “Maybe it was anti-puberty music!”

In the mid-1990s he became the talk of Nashville. He was known for terrific songs, sometimes wonderful performances and a penchant for drinking. Steve Earle, no stranger to abusing substances, called Holcombe “the best songwriter I’ve ever had to throw out of my studio.”

Geffen Records signed Holcombe to a recording contract, and his 1996 debut album, “A Hundred Lies,” was sent to critics, who began writing glowing reviews. Unfortunately, a label shake-up saw the album shelved before it was ever offered to the public.

When the disc was finally released in 1999, Holcombe had moved back to North Carolina and the buzz was on other newer artists. For those who heard him, though, Holcombe’s reputation never faltered. He released the album “Another Wisdom” in 2004 and has followed regularly with acclaimed albums ever since.

Asked about the consistent quality of his songwriting and his output, Holcombe deflects to talk about some of the vintage music he’s been listening to lately — Old and in the Way, Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers, The Desert Rose Band and others.

“It’s still weighing on me,” Holcombe says of the music. “Then there’s Tom Paxton, Tim Hardin, Phil Ochs and Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie, people who were spokesmen for the common man. It’s stuff that sticks in my head. Eric Taylor is another one. He shoots from the hip and still comes across. Darrell (Scott) is another one and David Olney is, too."

Many of those artists came from the protest movement, and Holcombe’s new album certainly has a topical feel, opening with the song “Crippled Point of View” and continuing with a song that addresses immigration.

“I think there’s a lot of stuff on people’s minds and maybe they’re fearful to express it,” says Holcombe. “Especially with this new administration, you look in people’s eyes and they’re confused and angry, maybe at a loss for words, and they’re hurting in their hearts. Things are not good. Whether you’re losing your job or your insurance and your kids are sick or you’re sick. I just think we’ve got our priorities mixed up. We’re just going for the coin.”

Holcombe says giving up alcohol was probably the biggest best decision he ever made.

“And that probably covers the rest of them, too! But that was just a gift. God did that.”

Holcombe tends to deflect compliments. Like an older generation, praise seems to embarrass him. And he’d just as soon talk about the advice of that older generation than current events or the art of songwriting:

“My dad said, ‘Don’t ever quit your day job’ and I wish I’d listened!”

- by Wayne Bledsoe

Elmore Magazine - April 7, 2017

Malcolm Holcombe

Pretty Little Troubles

 | April 7th, 2017

Artist:     Malcolm Holcombe

Album:     Pretty Little Troubles

Label:     Gypsy Eyes Music

Release Date:     4/7/2017


Malcolm Holcombe is a troubadour seemingly from another age. Somehow his vivid imagery can evoke characters right out of a Dickens novel or, closer to home, southern writers like Faulkner or Eudora Welty. Straight out of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Holcombe brings his observant keen eye to the people of the region, their struggles, their hard earned victories, and somehow many of his observations and short vignettes are widely applicable to all of us.

Following 2016’s highly acclaimed Another Black Hole, Holcombe turned to kindred spirit, multi-instrumentalist, and singer-songwriter Darrell Scott to produce this effort. “Malcolm Holcombe is an artist of deep mystery and high art,” says Scott. “He is who I listen to, and have for over 20 years—this record goes on my list of “working with my heroes”—all the goods that I value in songs and artistry are in Malcolm—the real deal.” Scott plays all kinds of instruments but also enlists the support of Holcombe’s long-time cohort, Jared Tyler on mandolin and dobro, Dennis Crouch on bass, Verlon Thompson on acoustic guitar and Marco Giovino on percussion. Other players guest on select tracks.

Holcombe has his own unique guitar style, a hybrid of fingerpicking and strumming, taking the listener from blues-based riffs to Celtic balladry. As an aside, if you get a chance to see Holcombe live, do so. He is absolutely riveting as he gets into a focused, almost hypnotic zone while rocking back and forth in his chair. And, his gruff, resonant, cigarette-burned voice belies his sense for melody – many of his songs have really catchy hooks.

Close your eyes. You can see his characters emerging from the coal mines, heading for the barroom, or home to a rather dilapidated dwelling where a wife struggles to feed too many kids, while fending off the arguments of her beaten down, disgruntled husband. Case in point, here are some excerpted lyrics from “Good Ol’ Days” – “Joseph Marta seven kids/I know them names by heart/your mother’s father worked the mines/Petersburg to Charleston/St. Petersburg to Charleston” and later “fifty cents a bloody day/no child labor laws/most them lil’ babies died/disease and alcohol/disease and alcohol.” Songwriters like Guy Clark, Butch Hancock, and Eric Taylor can paint vivid pictures of the many aspects of Texas. In a similar way Holcombe does the same for Appalachia but while I can come up with a host of Texas writers, I don’t have a long list of Appalachian bards.

While Holcombe’s lyrics, unique voice and guitar are enough for the singer-songwriter devotee, this is his most musically adorned album. Much of that is due to Scott, adding a banjo or pedal steel in the right places, bringing in the Celtic touch of Ulleann whistles and pipes in “Eyes of Josephine,” and even a string arrangement for “The Sky Stood Still”. These flourishes make this album a bit more accessible than previous Holcombe outings.

After a day of hard work, many seek comfort by reaching for the bottle. Perhaps a better alternative is to just sit down and listen to Holcombe, not to say the two need be mutually exclusive. Holcombe is indeed one-of-a-kind. Seek him out.

- by Jim Hynes

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

Nashville Scene - April 6, 2017

Malcolm Holcombe Keeps Telling Appalachian Tales on Pretty Little Troubles

Holcombe releases his latest this week, and plays Music City Roots on Wednesday

Considering a writer’s approach to music, the American composer Aaron Copland wrote, “He seems to be most uncomfortable with it, and when he puts two words together to characterize a musical experience, one of them is almost certain to be wrong.” Ignoring how discouraging this is for music journalists, it touches on music’s ineffable mystique — in Copland’s case, American folk music and the expansive Appalachian vistas it evokes.

Malcolm Holcombe hails from the heart of those mountains, about 10 miles north of Asheville, N.C., in Weaverville. Like many singer-songwriters inspired by the American folk revival in the middle of the 20th century, Holcombe’s style of writing and performing reflects on both the rapid changes of the contemporary world and the old world that it’s squeezing out. But you wouldn’t confuse Holcombe for someone who’s too fussy to characterize a musical experience.

“A lot of it is just trying to remember what’s happening around me, you know?” he tells the Scene of his songwriting process. “I ain’t nothing new under the sun. I just got a different way of slinging baloney against the wall.”

Holcombe’s method yields expressions that seem raw and gruff on the surface, but contain multitudes of subtleties. That has helped him attain an esteemed position in the Americana world as an Appalachian songwriter’s Appalachian songwriter, and has drawn him close to many talented collaborators over the years. That includes Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductees Pat Alger and Tony Arata, who helped Holcombe make industry connections when he first came to Music City in the fall of 1990, as well as Emmylou Harris and Futureman, who would go on to make guest appearances on Holcombe’s records. 

One of the latest collaborators is Darrell Scott. A gifted singer-songwriter in his own wright, Scott has also worked with Guy Clark, and he produced Holcombe’s new studio album Pretty Little Troubles, which is out April 7. Together, Scott and Holcombe crafted a diverse sound for the new record, ranging from the Eastern European stomp of “South Hampton Street” — which features National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Famer Joey Miskulin on accordion plus a band that includes bouzouki, dobro, bass and guitar — to the traditional Irish pipes and drums of “Eyes of Josephine.” Holcombe’s distinctive voice, an instrument weathered by a career filled with ups and downs — in conversation, he doesn’t shy away from his struggle with alcoholism, or the jail time he did for “getting [his] beak stuck in the wrong places” and “not listening to anybody else besides between [his] ears” — carries throughout.

But the most striking aspect of Pretty Little Troubles is the same thing that makes the rest of Holcombe’s three-decade-plus catalog of songs indispensable. Throughout the record, he celebrates and illuminates the lives of people who eke out a living in Appalachia without painting them over with fictitious romanticism. In describing a town ravaged by the closure of a mine, “Damn Good Ol’ Days” looks past the economic security the mine offered to the exploitation of miners and their children. “Damn Weeds” starts with a tour through a trailer park where the vegetable garden and the neighbors’ kids sound like the narrator’s biggest problems, until he starts to discuss his failing health and a government he can’t trust. 

Ultimately, Holcombe hopes the record offers listeners a familiarity with the struggles of poor people too seldom afforded the respect of being treated honestly.

“I just hope it’s topical,” he says.


Pop Matters - April 6, 2017

North Carolina singer-songwriter Malcolm Holcombe possesses one of those deep whiskey-soaked voices that come from a life spent working and playing hard. A voice like that can’t be faked; it has the authenticity born of living life through less than advantageous circumstances, and it can also be a voice of deep wisdom. Holcombe’s music comes from the country blues side of the mountain where plainspoken lyrics rest atop spare acoustic arrangements played with feeling. But Holcombe also weaves folk and country into his work. He’s about as Americana as one can be.

- by Sarah Zupko

Lone Star Magazine - April 8, 2017



North Carolina songwriter takes a hard look at harder times with his Darrell Scott-produced “Pretty Little Troubles”

Malcolm Holcombe’s tuneful growl sounds like it’s coming from the depths of a coal mine, or the smoky backroom of a seedy pool hall. It’s the sound of a man used to hard work and low pay, sleepless nights and bleary-eyed dawns that promise more of the same. His songs aren’t overtly political, but by detailing the economic struggles of people on the edge, the 61-year-old troubadour reveals his own proletarian soul.

He dedicates his new album, Pretty Little Troubles (released April 7 on Gypsy Eyes) to the “dreams, sweat and tears of all immigrants.” Recorded last November, the album’s tone is strongly reflective of the trepidation of the then-current election cycle. And the post-election aftermath certainly hasn’t lightened the veteran singer-songwriter’s mood.

“It’s hard for me to ignore what’s going on around me, politically or emotionally,” Holcombe says via phone from his home in North Carolina. “I can’t imagine what’s behind the atrocities we’ve been putting up with. There are so many potty mouth words I could use to describe it — I’d need a bar of soap in every pocket if I was going to start talking about it! … I feel like another iron curtain is falling, a wall of misinformation, alternate facts or plain old lies, nauseating, unbelievable stories that would be rejected by MAD magazine.

“I can’t recall another time I’ve been so desperate for some kind of hope,” he continues. “Racists and bigots are coming out of the woodwork. Maybe that’s why I’m writing all this crazy, angry stuff. You hang around the barber shop long enough, you’re gonna hafta get a haircut.”

Holcombe’s been writing his musical parables for as long as he can remember. He grew up in Weaverville, North Carolina, on a diet of transistor radio music: British Invasion, Wolfman Jack, Grand Ole Opry. He was in an acoustic folk group in high school, playing covers of songs by Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary and the Kingston Trio. He was also writing songs of his own, though he dismisses those as “mostly the kind of fluff you think is important when you’re a teenager.”

“When I finally had five good songs, I made an album with my friend Sam Milner,” he continues. “It got some good reviews, so I made my way to Nashville. I got on a bus with nothing but a six-pack and a guitar. They didn’t let me keep the six-pack, but I was in Nashville for about eight years, off and on.”

Holcombe’s Music City stint started in 1990, and although a mainstream country music career was certainly never in the cards (let alone part of his intent), his songwriting did not go unnoticed. A publishing deal with Bug Music led to a recording contract with Geffen Records. “Next thing you know,” he says, “I’m eating pizza in Santa Monica and making an album. Then there was a shake up at the label and the record (A Hundred Lies) never came out.”

But when A Hundred Lies was finally released on Hip-O three years later (1999), Holcombe’s celebrations of the lives of ordinary people made him something of an underground sensation. The album wasn’t a hit in the conventional sense, but Holcombe’s plainspoken poetry was delivered with an effortless blend of folk, country and blues that earned him critical raves and a small but devoted following that’s grown steadily over the last 18 years and several more albums. Pretty Little Troubles finds him once again focusing on the forgotten people who make up the backbone of America. He recorded the album with producer Darrell Scott over four days at The Sanctuary in West Nashville.

“It’s a big open room, like a barn,” Holcombe says. “Darrell Scott brought in some gear and we all sat around in a circle — Jared Tyler on Dobro and mandolin, Verlon Thompson on guitar and resonator slide and Darrell on banjo, guitar piano and almost everything else — looking at each other and playing the songs live. I had arrangements for some of the songs, Darrell had ideas for some of them and others started off naked as jaybirds and arranged themselves through osmosis. As we started playing with each other, we put on their socks and pants.”

Troubles and truth: “You put your fingers on the frets and go from the gut,” says Malcom Holcombe. “When I’m feeling something, or seeing something going on, I have a duty to write an honest song about it.” (Photo courtesy of Malcolm Holcombe)

The songs on the album are full of the honesty Holcombe is known for. “Yours No More” takes the promise at the base of the Statue of Liberty — “Send me your tired, your poor … ” — and turns it into a warning, detailing the dangers a modern immigrant may face. Resonator slide and Holcolmbe’s rolling fingerpicked rhythms provide an uplifting counterpoint to this cautionary tale, with Scott, Tyler and Thompson adding gospel-flavored harmonies to the call and response of the chorus. In “Rocky Ground,” Holcombe describes a farmer trying to earn a living by coaxing crops out of barren soil, as moaning pedal steel and dark strummed chords intensify the desolation of the lyric. “We Struggle” closes the album with a celebration of the dignity of people trying provide for their families, in a time of diminishing returns. It’s taken at a funereal pace, with Holcomb’s quiet, weary vocal balanced by some mellow, Django-influenced guitar.

When asked if he played the song’s gently swinging, gypsy fills, Holcombe laughs. “That’s Darrell,” he says. “He’s a genuine man of few words, but he’s got the goods and the heart and plays hard. I ain’t that musical, or much of a creative player. I mostly use the guitar to get the words across. When I was a kid, I started on a pawnshop guitar my dad got me. I had a Mel Bay book that showed me where to put my fingers to make a chord. When I couldn’t figure out the chord, I’d hit the guitar out of frustration and it turned into a habit. That’s why my playing is so percussive. When you play alone, you gotta be a one man band.”

Holcombe has had a lot of experience doing that over the course of his long career, and the road he’s travelled has never been an especially smooth one. In the wake of his initial deal with Geffen falling apart, he continued to write songs and gig, both solo and as a trio, but struggled the whole time fighting his personal demons — namely, drugs and alcohol. “I knew I was gonna have drinking trouble the first time I popped the top of a Pearl beer, when I was a youngster,” he says.

That “trouble” might well have been the end of him had Holcombe not turned his life around 15 years ago. That’s when he met his wife, moved back to his native North Carolina to settle in Ashville, and began focusing on his prolific recording career in earnest. He’s made 10 solid albums since 2003, including To Drink the Rain in 2011 and Another Black Hole, released last year. Holcombe says his only agenda has always been to just write a good song.

“I don’t know if my songwriting’s gotten any better or not,” he says. “When I write a song, I hope that it not only makes me feel better, but that it may help somebody else. Sometimes I fail; sometimes I feel like I can’t fail. If anybody hears the songs, they can decide on their own if they’re worth saving or savoring. I just write ’em down and move on.”

His latest album’s closing track, “We Struggle,” sums up Holcombe’s approach. Like much of his work, it celebrates the realities of hard work and aging, ending on a hopeful note, with the birth of a child.

“You put your fingers on the frets and go by your gut,” he says. “My memory’s shot to hell, but when I’m feeling something, or seeing something going on, I have a duty to write an honest song about it. You know how you know if your child is telling the truth? It’s like that, an intuitive feeling that’s not of this planet. It’s a spiritual thing. You can tell if it’s a ray of sunshine or a shadow on the ground, if you’re saying something that’s baring its teeth, or baring its ass, or bearing the truth.”

By j. poet

Mountain Xpress - March 31, 2017

One of the first things one notices when listening to Pretty Little Troubles — the 15th album from Weaverville folk artist Malcolm Holcombe — is the sharp contrast between the music and the singing. For this album, Holcombe has enlisted the musical support of multi-instrumentalist and producer Darrell Scott and a short list of other ace players. The various ensembles create warm, inviting and intriguing musical landscapes for Holcombe’s often dark yet universal and familiar themes.

But that instrumentation — which includes Holcombe’s facile acoustic guitar work — is set sharply against the artist’s undeniably hoary, lived-in vocal delivery. And while Holcombe’s themes are reliably downtrodden, there’s a sense of — if not quite optimism — defiant resignation that burrows deep into his work.

While Holcombe is nominally a mountain musician, the songs on Pretty Little Troubles are deeply informed as much by gospel and Delta blues styles as by traditional Appalachian folk music. Holcombe will perform Saturday, April 8, at Isis Music Hall.

Scott’s production vibe on Pretty Little Troubles is deliciously “live,” and even without headphones, the listener is placed right in the center of the music. And while the general feel of the album is no-frills, it’s clear that a great deal of care went into creating that spontaneous air. The vocal backing provided by Holcombe’s associates — primarily Scott, Jared Tyler and Verlon Thompson— is made to sound like a much larger chorus. That chorus often suggests a Venn diagram intersection of rural church choirs, prison chain gangs of the old South and the slick harmonies of the Jordanaires.

Holcombe makes a point of being plainspoken, but he has a preternatural ability to make a well-worn phrase feel new. Case in point: Pretty Little Troubles‘ fourth cut, “Outta Luck,” includes the familiar phrase, “cold hands, warm heart,” but he couches the expression in a larger lyrical context that makes it feel like a wholly original construct.

Holcombe’s choices of additional instrumentation on selected tracks — slide guitar on “Outta Luck,” keening pedal steel on several tracks, Jelly Roll Johnson’s harmonica — add subtle bits of dimension to his simple melodies. Yet when all of those adornments are stripped away, as on the solo guitar-and-vocal “Damn Weeds,” Holcombe shows that he doesn’t, strictly speaking, need those things; he only adds instruments when he wants to.

The finest examples of Holcombe’s use of augmented instrumentation on Pretty Little Troubles are the Celtic-flavored “Eyes of Josephine” and the soaring “The Sky Stood Still.” The latter switches between romping, uptempo sections and meditative breaks; thanks to Jonathan Yudkin‘s strings, it’s easily the album’s most musically sophisticated piece.

Holcombe’s voice — think Tom Waits with his teeth out — probably wouldn’t work well singing anybody else’s songs. But for his original work, there’s likely no better instrument on this earth. His vocal phrasing and delivery are as loose and rough-hewn as the arrangements are crystalline, and it’s the tension between those qualities that makes Pretty Little Troubles such a worthwhile listening experience.

- by Bill Kopp

Blog Critics - March 30, 2017

Malcolm Holcombe releases another gravelly blast from the shadows with Pretty Little Troubles, his new album produced with homespun grace by Darrell Scott. The pairing proves a fruitful one; Scott, a fine songwriter himself, seems to understand what kind of sonic geometries showcase Holcombe’s shades-of-grey songs best. Scott also organically fuses his own multi-instrumental skills with those of the other accomplished musicians behind Holcombe’s own acoustic guitar and scratchy rubber-on-the-road vocals.

Aptly for our times, Holcombe dedicates the album “to the dreams, sweat, and tears of all refugees and immigrants.” Many of the songs focus on the displaced, the dispossessed, the distressed. It opens with the bluesy, startlingly understated “Crippled Point O’ View,” inviting us to dive into the bottom of the barrel without delay. But after the explicit ode to immigrants in the beautiful “Yours No More” (see video below), powerful irony arises with the jaunty country-folk bounce of “Good Ole Days,” its jubilant hoedown dance beat sprinkled with images like “fifty cents a bloody day / no child labor laws / most them lil’ babies died / disease and alcohol.”

In other songs the lyrics flap under and over the flow of meaning, at moments bordering on the nonsensical to match the looseness of Holcombe’s singing. On a casual initial listen, you might wonder if melody has much importance in this opus. But the method to Holcombe’s shuffling madness becomes clearer with each track, elemental and intelligent musicality emerging in the grooves and melodies of the swing-waltz “South Hampton Street,” the bitter humor of “Damn Weeds,” and the riff-driven Irish balladry of “The Eyes O’ Josephine” with its uilleann whistles and pipes.

Amid the deceptively simple folksiness and cryptic lyrics of “Bury, England,” the images though vivid don’t give us a clue what the hell happened there. Holcombe uses the technique artfully. Don’t explain everything. Leave much to the imagination.

Yearning chord changes and lyrics make the gorgeous “Rocky Ground” the album’s pièce de resistance: “all i know and all i am / don’t matter anyhow / watchin’ you grow old and lovely / hungry to be found.” Yet in the half-mumbled closer “We Struggle” Holcombe shines a gloomier light on aging, returning to the theme of the lost and hopeless from the opening track: “Old and guilty / worried and sleepless…wishin’ children never grow old.” Holcombe creases a sense of decrepitude and weariness into his deliberately half-wrecked-sounding voice and uses both to pointed effect, speaking directly to the immigrant, the wanderer, the home-seeker in all of us.

- by Jon Sobel

Lonestar Time (IT) - April 19th, 2017

by- Remo Ricaldone

Malcolm Holcombe - Pretty Little Troubles
Pubblicato da Remo Ricaldone | Etichette: Malcolm Holcombe, Recensione Cd
Torna con cadenza regolare la voce strascicata ed evocativa, la caratterizzazione un po’ arruffata ma densa di riferimenti country, folk, blues e old-time di Malcolm Holcombe, musicista che arriva dalle Blue Ridge Mountains del North Carolina con il suo bagaglio di radici tradizionali filtrate da una grande personalità ed originalità. “Pretty Little Troubles” segue infatti di appena un anno “Another Black Hole” e ne segue anche le impronte fatte di notevole devozione per la sua terra e di profondo amore per la canzone d’autore tra Texas (chiaro e frequente il riferimento alla scrittura di Guy Clark per esempio) e gli Stati a sud della linea Mason-Dixon. La produzione passa dalle esperte mani di Ray Kennedy, dietro alla consolle del precedente album, a quelle altrettanto sapienti di Darrell Scott, tra i migliori ‘storytellers’ in circolazione e abbastanza intelligente da non cambiare suoni e inflessioni, mantenendo intatto il fascino un po’ ‘obliquo’ e variegato di Malcolm Holcombe, qui ancora profondo ed introspettivo, affascinante e misterioso. I suoni blues e gospel della tradizione afro-americana sono fusi con maestria con quelli country, folk e anche ‘irish’ del retaggio bianco, risultando naturalmente affiancati ad una vena cantautorale pura ed incontaminata. “Yours No More” ad esempio vede eccellenti colorazioni gospel incontrare la canzone folk, “To Get By” fa rivivere i ‘good old days’ con i suoi suoni tra bluegrass e old-time senza aver paura di essere ‘politically correct’ nel linguaggio e nell’approccio, “Outta Luck” è ballata superba che inevitabilmente ricorda il songbook di Darrell Scott, qui sempre presente con i suoi strumenti a corda. E accanto a Darrell Scott c’è il mandolino e il dobro del fedelissimo Jared Tyler, le chitarre del grande Verlon Thompson a ribadire il legame con il citato Guy Clark, l’esperto basso di Dennis Crouch, l’armonica di Jelly Roll Johnson che fa capolino qua e la, Joey Miskulin alla fisarmonica e il mitico Kenny Malone alle percussioni. Un ‘parterre de roi’ insomma che nobilita una vena compositiva sempre ottima come dimostra “South Hampton Street” con il fascino di certe canzoni marinare e la dolcezza un po’ bohemienne per la presenza della fisarmonica, la cristallina bellezza di “Rocky Ground” ballata nostalgica intepretata col cuore pensando a Guy Clark, “Bury, England” altro gioiellino di equilibrio acustico tra chitarre, dobro, mandolino e armonica, “Damn Weeds” folk song che riporta all’età d’oro del revival della canzone tradizionale nei primi anni sessanta con Dave Van Ronk in mente, “The Eyes O’ Josephine” con tutto il suo fascino anglo-scoto-irlandese e “We Struggle”, discorsiva e rilassata. Solo alcuni esempi questi che non fanno che confermare un ‘body of work’ decisamente superiore alla media e meritevole di essere apprezzato e conosciuto.

FATEA Magazine (UK) - April 15th, 2017

by- Paul Jackson

Malcolm Holcombe
Album: Pretty Little Troubles
Label: Gypsy Eyes
Tracks: 12
Critically lauded North Carolina based singer-songwriter Malcolm Holcombe has become something of a quiet institution since the release of his first record way back in 1996. It is difficult to know where to start when confronted with the degree of critical acclaim he has garnered over the past 20 years, so rather than try, I can think of nothing better to sum him up than this quote from Rolling Stone Magazine 'haunted country, acoustic blues and rugged folk'. However, this acclaim has not necessarily translated into the sort of recognition enjoyed by oft-cited contemporaries such as Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris and he remains perhaps something of an 'underground' folk hero.
I first came across him a few years ago whilst idly perusing live sessions on YouTube from the marvellous Union Music Store in Lewes, here in the UK. There he was, gravel voiced, ferociously beating his guitar and rocking back and forth on his chair in hypnotic fashion to spellbinding effect. I bought his then release Down The River and it's safe to say I have been something of an admirer of him since.

Another admirer, equally lauded American singer-songwriter Darrell Scott, has produced Pretty Little Troubles and musically Malcolm is joined by a veritable cast of thousands representing all that is good in modern country, folk and Americana. Far too many to list here, but the fact so many musicians of this stature want to play on a Malcolm Holcombe record says something of the esteem in which his peers hold him.

For me, the opening three tracks of this album are about as good an introduction to a record I have heard in a very long time. Moreover, for anyone new to Malcolm, a run through these songs will serve admirably as a whistle stop tour of his talents.

Crippled Point O' View sleazes in on a bumping bass line that could have been pilfered from Tito & Tarantula and the From Dusk till Dawn soundtrack. Throw in some Tom Waits type percussion and it is all marvellously disorientating before everything is grounded with the arrival of Malcolm's mightily gruff voice. 'I can't deny these troubled old times' he tells us and we are back in familiar territory as the song rolls through nearly four and a half minutes of musical twists and turns.

Yours No More is an acoustic, country-flavoured song with lovely layers of slide over Malcolm's guitar and his voice sitting right on top of the mix. One of his glorious laments to people used, abused and discarded by those with more power suddenly moves into almost gospel territory with the chorus voices doubling his vocal on 'Send me your tired and poor, sick and sufferin', send them to me, send them to me, Ellis island is yours no more'. Spine tingling stuff indeed.

Good Ole Days completes this opening trio of songs, driving along on banjo, bass and shuffling percussion in old timey bluegrass fashion. This being Malcolm Holcombe, it's safe to say the Good Ole Days are referenced ironically and the whole track has a playful feel with its call and response chorus and ensemble Soggy Bottom Boys vocals, which lend a timeless 'Oh Brother Where Art Thou' quality to the proceedings.

So, three tracks in and we have been treated to Malcolm Holcombe's full repertoire of gruff, belligerent, longing, yearning, ironic and playful all delivered with his trade mark vocals, guitar and the most creative and complimentary musical accompaniment imaginable. The only problem foreseeable here is that of peaking to early!

Fortunately, the rest of the album stands square with these openers and rather than go through each track individually, I will just pick out a few personal favourites to say a bit more about.

Bury, England, which is pretty much a verbatim account of a show in a northern UK venue, manages to marry a jaunty melody with an opening couplet of 'that ol building looked like a halfway house, smelled like an old folks home inside'. Things get worse from there, but as always, it remains difficult to establish whether this is sung with bile or warmth, maybe equal measures of both!

Damn Weeds is probably the most musically sparse song on the album, essentially Malcolm and his guitar but is yet another sweet, jaunty sounding number that belies its ambivalent themes. It also boasts some particularly visual lyrics 'a double-wide and a butterfly bush, maters got the blight, neighbours cuss the kids and dogs, ev'ry day and night'.

The Eyes O' Josephine is simply a stunning song. Malcolm's voice and guitar are welded to an Irish based backdrop that pushes the verses along until it takes over completely at about two minutes twenty with what I imagine is the Ulleann pipes of Mike McGoldrick. It feels that Malcolm physically fights his way back into the song for a mighty musical alliance that plays itself out for the next minute of so. Such is the authenticity here it would have been no surprise if a couple of reels and jigs were added on to the end in traditional Irish folk fashion!

I count myself as an admirer of Malcolm Holcombe and to my mind, this is his most complete album yet. The songs are strong, his trademark vocals are true and his acoustic guitar is as present as always, driving things along. However, for me, what gives this album the edge is the creativity of the arrangements, the quality of the production and breathtaking musicianship by all involved. Whilst crystal clear, the recording never glosses over or smoothes out Malcolm's vocal idiosyncrasies, warts and all, and essentially maintains the energy of a live take. Producer Darrell Scott should rightly take much of the credit for this, along with his own multi instrumental musical contribution. There doesn't seem to be an instrument this man cannot play! Factor in the previously mentioned bunch of musicians that are still too numerous to name individually, and you truly have the basis of a stunning musical soundscape.

So, another great Malcolm Holcombe album, but with bells and whistles this time. A truly joyous and uplifting piece of music.


Messenger (UK) - April 4th, 2017

by- Kevin Bryan

Malcolm Holcombe, "Pretty Little Troubles" (Gypsy Eyes Music)- If you've ever been fortunate enough to come across any of Malcolm Holcombe's work in the past you should have a good idea of what to expect from the contents of "Pretty Little Troubles." The grizzled old country balladeer is rather like Americana's answer to Tom Waits, delivering his haunting insights into the human condition with a hypnotic blend of fractured, smouldering vocals and stunning musicianship. This doesn't make for particularly easy listening but it's well worth investigating nonetheless, and the North Carolina native's 15th studio recording must rank as one of his best.

Moors Magazine (NL) - March 20th, 2017

Als je hem op de foto ziet staan naast Darrell Scott zie je pas goed hij breekbaar en fragiel Malcolm Holcombe oogt. Ook als je de man ziet optreden valt het elke keer op dat hij bijna uit elkaar valt van ellende – kromgebogen over zijn gitaar, met de uitstraling van een junkie of een zware alcoholist. Maar dan gaat hij spelen en zingen, en dan raak je al snel onder de indruk van de liedjes die deze man schrijft en speelt. Hij zingt soepel en jazzy en zijn teksten zijn intelligent en raak. En ook zijn gitaarspel is verrassend anders en goed.

Zijn nieuwe, inmiddels al vijftiende, studioalbum werd geproduceerd door niemand minder dan Darrell Scott, die Holcombe hoog heeft zitten als liedjesschrijver. Holcombe is niet wat je noemt een “mooie” zanger met zijn roestige bariton, maar het is wel een stem die bij je binnenkomt, en hij zingt op een zelfde relaxte manier als een Tom Waits of JJ Cale dat ook konden, een beetje gruizig, ruw aan de randjes, maar tegelijkertijd ontspannen.

Naast Darrell Scott, die af en toe een tweede stem levert maar die ook een heel arsenaal aan instrumenten bespeelt hoor je hier nog meer topmuzikanten, als Jared Tyler op mandoline en dobro, Verlon Thompson op gitaar, de onvolprezen Kenny Malone op percussie, Jelly Roll Johnson op mondharmonica, Mike McColdrick op Ullean pipes en fluiten en Joey Miskulin op accordeon. En dan heb ik ze nieteens allemaal genoemd. Het mooie is dat Holcombe dan tussen de bedrijven door in één nummer laat horen dat hij het alleen met zijn gitaar soms ook heel goed af kan, want dat ene nummer is dan op dat moment wel zo indrukwekkend. Maar die arrangementen met band pakken toch ook wel heel erg goed uit, moet ik zeggen. Topalbum, met sublieme liedjes. Er zit geen zwak moment tussen.

via Google Translate...


If you see him in the picture next to Darrell Scott see only good he looks Malcolm Holcombe brittle and fragile. Even if you see the man falls occur every time that he almost falls apart in misery - hunched over his guitar, with the look of a junkie or a heavy alcoholic. But then he is going to play and sing, and then tap quickly impressed by the songs and writes this man play. He sings smooth and jazzy, and his lyrics are intelligent and touch. And his guitar playing is surprisingly different and good. His new, already fifteenth studio album was produced by none other than Darrell Scott, which has high Holcombe sit as a songwriter. Holcombe is not what you call a "nice" singer with his rusty baritone, but it is a voice that comes from you, and he sings in the same relaxed manner as a Tom Waits or JJ Cale it could, a little gritty, rough around the edges, yet relaxed. Besides Darrell Scott, who occasionally a second voice yields but also an arsenal of instruments playing, you hear more musicians here, as Jared Tyler on mandolin and dobro, Verlon Thompson on guitar, the unsurpassed Kenny Malone on percussion, Jelly Roll Johnson on harmonica, Mike McColdrick on Ullean pipes and flutes and Joey Miskulin on accordion. And then I called all of them disagree. The beauty is that Holcombe than between times in one song proves that he can make some very good it alone with his guitar, for that one song or so impressive at the time. But the suits arrangements band yet also very good, I must say. Top album with sublime songs. There is no weak point in between.

Rocking Magpie - March 30th, 2017

Raw and Defiantly Authentic Country-Blues.

I can’t remember how long ago it was when I first ‘discovered’ Malcolm Holcombe; but I do remember it was a Jumping Hot Club upstairs in the Central Bar, Gateshead when the room was littered with a handful of regulars who hung on every single word and note that came from the stage.

I was so smitten with the singer-songwriter I actually borrowed £5 from the promoter to go towards me buying the album Malcolm had for sale.

To be kind to the man from Carolina he has a voice and dress sense that only a Mother…..or me could love; just ask Mrs. Magpie!

I digress; let’s get onto PRETTY LITTLE TROUBLES Malcolm’s 15th album.

Some rather funky bass-lines and timpani unusually open the first track Crippled Point O’View; but it doesn’t take long for that trademark rasp and some wheezing harmonica from Jelly Roll Johnson to filter from the office speakers and Malcolm offers a rye and rueful view on these ‘tired and troubled times.’ Not exactly a protest song as such; it’s well worth listening to and, unless you are a flag waving patriot you will sadly find yourself nodding in agreement to many of of his all too keen observations on the state of the world.

When you listen to songs like Rocky Ground and Damn Weeds it’s difficult to pigeon hole Malcolm Holcombe, as he’s certainly a Folk Singer, but this is Classic Hill Music which pre-dates Bluegrass and damn sure this guy has the Blues.

The title track Pretty Little Troubles is as sweet as Malcolm Holcombe gets; but peel away the layers and you will yet another sharp and darkly witty observation on the times we find ourselves in.
As a ‘Troubadour’ Malcolm isn’t afraid to delve into the past to give you a history lesson that needs to be considered by the likes of us but repeated to future generations; Good Ole Days is a prime case in point, but you can delve deep into his back catalogue for other razor sharp examples. Here he uses the phrase ‘Good Ole Days’ and a jaunty finger picked guitar lick to draw you in to a story of a coal miner who worked with no labour laws and had seven children, of which many died of diseases associated with poverty! I listened again to this song the day President Trump promised to revive coal mining in the USA as part of his ‘Make America Great’ strategy…….perhaps someone should hack his iPhone and make this song Putin’s ringtone.

While I’m on that subject the final song on the album We Struggle is the type of restrained fury that we normally associate with Bob Dylan’s first 3 or 4 albums; but is needed in 2017 more than ever. Listen to it on headphones and it will break your heart in two.

Malcolm’s songs are always intriguing, especially the ones based on his own experiences, such is the case with Bury, England. A tale of touring hundreds of miles from home and turning up in a small town in the North of England, but it could be Nowheresville Anywhere. The intimate detail in the lyrics will bring rye smiles from British fans, and musicians all over the world.

The Eyes of Josephine finds Malcolm rediscovering his Celtic Roots, on a romantic ballad that is a timelessly beautiful Folk ballad at its heart.

As a ‘fan boy’ I’ve particularly liked Malcolm’s recent releases as he’s found some producers who are sensitive to his own particular needs…..especially his voice; which has always been brittle and worn. For long parts of his concerts you find yourself leaning forward to hear him as he can sing in barely a gruff whisper.

Without too much studio witchcraft Darrell Scott brings out a wonderful warmth and depth to that larynx on Rocky Ground and the raw to the bone Yours No More but especially on my favourite song here; and one more than worthy of inclusion on any future Best Of album……The Sky Stood Still. For once I’m lost for words as to how to describe it…..hey; buy the album and tell me I’m wrong.

Please, if you’ve got this far at the very least find Malcolm Holcombe on one of those streaming sites and I’m 99% sure you will find yourself buying something of his; and this is a damn good place to start!

Released May 26th UK & Europe
Released April 7th USA & Canada

Dirty Rock - March 24, 2017

BY   CARLOS PEREZ BÁEZ     DISCS 24 March, 2017

Malcolm Holcombe published "Pretty Little Troubles", sixteenth studio album produced by Darrell Scott and Brian Brinkerhoff and recorded at The Sanctuary and Hippie Jack's studios Crawford, Tennessee, disc will be available on April 7 in the US and May 26 in Europe after Another Black Hole, released last year, which helped the legendary singer, songwriter and guitarist Tony Joe White  produced by Ray Kennedy and Brian Brinkerhoff in the studios of Nashville Room & Board Studios.

Malcolm Holcombe It offers his new album to dreams, tears and sweat of those refugees and migrants who fought for a better life through the bus of the American witnessing firsthand their particular adversities, poetry and metaphors that contain not only love and fury but toward despair, a cry to those vulnerable in today's society and their suffering.

Malcolm, composer, singer and American guitarist in his deep, raspy voice from North Carolina, famous Appalachians in which the air passes through the lungs burned by millions of cigarettes and a soul that has been broken by a series of personal tragedies due to drugs and alcohol, and that does not forget on this album of first Irish settlers who came to the United States, those empty stomachs and almost rotten bottle through the strumming of his guitar like wire.

His particular of the American Bus continues traveling through a rocky highway these miseries, which is located at each stop blind, thieves, alcoholics, babies, hearts of glass and miserable poor with poison in their pockets. Life as a roulette theater, misery always in his pockets. Is "Pretty Little Troubles" the story of life, dreams and broken hearts, of the weaknesses of the human species, in which you never have time for regret or nostalgia.

The great poet of the 21st century, Malcolm Holcombe, always has a smile in his pocket, in the fire of the sun going down every night, hitting continuously and other strokes. Magnetism pure and unsullied truth. discazo "Pretty Little Troubles" Mr. Holcombe, record we've been lucky enough to hear. One of the best works of 2017.

Malcolm Holcombe was accompanied for this record "Pretty Little Troubles" of musicians and producer Darrel Scott himself, his habitual Jared Tyler, Verlon Thompson, Marco Giovo, Dennis Crouch, Joey Miskulin, Kenny Malone, Jelly Roll Johnson, Mike McGoldrick, and Jonathan Yudkin.

Malcolm Holcombe began playing in a Country training in North Carolina, until he decided to go to Nashville to write songs, making this city one of the best underground composers in the early nineties with his usual softened moans with his poetry Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams consider him the best songwriter in recent years, making his first album for a major label in 1999 entitled "A Hundred Lies" before debut with "A Far Cry From Here" (1994).

List of songs from the new album Malcolm Holcombe   "Pretty Little Troubles"

1. Crippled Point O 'View
2. Yours No More
3. Good Ole Days
4. Outta Luck
5. South Hampton Street
6. Rocky Ground
7. Pretty Little Troubles
8. Bury, England
9. Damn Weeds
10. The Eyes O 'Josephine
11. The Sky Stood Still
12. We Struggle

Americana UK - May 3rd 2016

Sincere and authentic songs from a seasoned artist
— Andrew Higgins, Americana UK

'Another Black Hole' is the fourteenth album by Malcolm Holcombe. It brings together a fine group of musicians to deliver an accomplished set of songs. It walks that fine tightrope between being both new and familiar at the same time. There is a sincerity and depth to Holcombe's acerbic and incisive lyrics, delivered in a growling, sometimes even guttural way. It’s refreshing to hear the breath and life of Holcombe’s delivery, testimony to some fantastic production work by Ray Kennedy. Sometimes it is like Holcombe is sat on your shoulder, singing just for you.

Throughout the album, right from the opening track 'Sweet Georgia Brown', the playing is top notch with a swing and groove that shows a closeness and understanding between Holcombe's musical companions. You don't get to sound this effortless without a shed load of work and this feels like the real deal: musicians who love to play as a unit, working for the sake of the song, not individual virtuosity. Holcombe’s style might not be everyone's cup of tea perhaps, but as he sings..."The radio plays for the happy go lucky, that ain't my set of wheels".

Holcombe is playing a few dates in UK and Ireland in May, with long time compatriot, Jared Tyler, who features strongly on Another Black Hole. This reviewer has already bought his ticket and is looking forward to seeing the live rendition of some great songs.

Andrew Higgins