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Malcolm Holcombe

GAMBLIN' HOUSE • Malcolm Holcombe

For those that were there, it's difficult not to draw comparisons between the singer songwriters of recent times and those of the folk boom of the '60s and the pop success of the singer songwriters in the '70s. It's just too easy (but it's too depressing) to say "where are the Leonard Cohens, the Joni Mitchells, the Bob Dylans, the James Taylors, the Phil Ochs', the Gordon Lightfoots?"

When you play that game in reverse, and say "yeah, but looking back there was nobody like so-and-so back then", hopefully many of us can think of someone to fill in the blank with. The first name that comes to mind for me is Malcolm Holcombe. He's an original--ain't nobody walking in his shadow, and he ain't walking in anyone else's. He's got something that cannot be faked; call it energy, call it soul power. It's primal, it's primordial, it's as old as the Blue Ridge mountains, from whence he comes.

Just his spin on the acoustic guitar alone separates him from the pack immediately. That box is at his command at every instant, and he's pulling and slapping the crap out of that thing like it was a beast he was riding into hell. And that's just his right hand. With his left, he seems to be squeezing the strings harder than everyone else wringing the tone out of the strings like they were bleeding. It's like he's demanding his guitar to keep up with his singing, which is coming from the rich, deep dark center of this complicated man. In fact, my favorite sound that he makes is his breathing at the end of and between words--it's the essence of this fire breathing force of nature.

Malcolm's first CD on Echo Mountain Records, Gamblin' House, grabs you the way only he can, right at the top and doesn't let go until he's done singing. It's got all the spit and vinegar, all the heart and soul of a Malcolm record. Producer Ray Kennedy did his masterful best, perhaps the best that's ever been done, of presenting Malcolm Holcombe in all his raw glory. David Roe Rorick on bass and Kenny Malone on drums and percussion, everybody knows it doesn't get any better than that. Ed Snodderly from Johnson City, TN, on dobro (an instrument Malcolm has always been partial to) banjo and fiddle was a joy. One of the great lyricists of folk today, and its most heart-stopping troubadour. Get it. • Frank Goodman

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malcolmholcombe.com      echomountainrecords.com      

his myspace      our 2003 interview with Malcolm

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