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eerie country, raw mountain music
Sunday, 23.03.2014, 20:20
oh what a night...
Malcolm Holcombe (USA)
«Not quite country, somewhere beyond folk, Malcolm Holcombe's music is a kind of blues in motion, mapping backwoods corners of the heart» wrote David Fricke for Rolling Stone.

Uncannily, he looks more than a tad like the great (and anti-fracking, thanks) Neil Young. But our Doppelgaenger was born way south of the border in Ashville, North Carolina where once he supported himself by flipping burgers. Since there was little melody in that, he kept on climbing various stages and honky tonk bars to musically express his love for heroes like Townes Van Zandt, Billy Joe Shaver, John Prine and Tom Waits. And like Tom's, his own raspy voice expresses an against-the-grain kind of soul, his songs are an eerie country, raw mountain music and then perhaps somewhat pacified by soulful, acoustic blues. After some toiling in the lower depths of an unknown musician's existence, he hit it big with some welcome help from none other than Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams which gave birth to his already seventh album «Hundred Lies», his breakthrough work. No lying involved in what happened before, during or next: There were stories of drinking, drugs and assorted crazy behaviour but wild Malcolm's way cool now.

And he's stopping by our river with his newest «Down The River», wrapped up and under the belt for you to savour. Because on it, with the savvy of long-time producer Ray Kennedy, you'll hear the likes of Darrell Scott on guitar, banjo and dobro and Ken Coomer on drums (you might know him from Wilco and Uncle Tupelo). Plus voices by Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle, insane.

He's a true-to-life live guy, intense and committed. Check some of his writing: «I don't claim a thing / not a two-bit clue / but I heard somebody whisper / war kills the truth» or in the title cut and closing song «They make the laws to suit themselves / the ones that buy and sell the rest / of us down by the river» but then he appeals «Down the river / we pray for one another ...we hold on to our dream.» It takes a guy like Malcolm to remind us of that.

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