RENOWNED country-folk-blues singer-songwriter-guitarist Malcolm Holcombe, who is currently touring the UK and Ireland promoting his new album Down The River (featuring guests like Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle) will feature at the Brewery Lane Theatre in Carrick-on-Suir on Friday, September 28th and at Raheen House Hotel in Clonmel on Sunday, September 30th.
Malcolm Holcombe’s new album Down The River, his ninth, is born from that bed of contradictions we all lie in.
There are songs here such as ‘Twisted Arms’ and ‘Whitewash Job’ that sizzle with anger at a society that seems intent on losing its way and running over its poor and disenfranchised. These are coupled with songs from a softer, more generous perspective such as ‘The Crossing’ and ‘In Your Mercy’, written in the voice of an old woman who sees “All I worked for . . . sold and surely gone,” but who trusts that “many years will tell the truth”.
There is truth embedded in these songs the way quartz is embedded in the steep driveways and black dirt of Malcolm Holcombe’s western North Carolina.
The multiple perspectives of these songs speak of the man who wrote them.
Malcolm Holcombe takes the stage in the same clothes he wore driving to the gig, and his soft voice, rasped from years of smoking and singing to be heard in honky tonks, rises to a howl as he frails his guitar with furious precision.
He stomps, growls, rolls his eyes as he plays, then between songs cuts the tension with a corny joke.
A veteran of Nashville who has little good to say about the music industry - “a bunch of people trying to buy their way to fame” - he has won the praise of such artists as Steve Earle and Lucinda Williams as he works and tours from his home in western North Carolina. A once-legendary drinker and hell raiser, Malcolm is now many years sober and embraces a gentle if non-specific spirituality.
Down The River is just the most recent step in a journey that began in western North Carolina in 1955. The youngest of four children, Malcolm was fascinated by the guitar early, an interest he fed watching TV in his parents’ living room.
After high school and a brief stint in college, Malcolm played for a while with a trio called Redwing, then in a duet with Sam Milner. Eventually he found his way to Nashville where he established a local reputation and signed with Geffen Records.
In 1996, in one of those twists of logic only understood in the music business, Geffen signed Malcolm and paid to record his major label debut A Hundred Lies. The album was pressed, promotional copies were sent, and the album, a stunning, low-key masterpiece, was never released. In the wake of that fiasco, Malcolm made his way back to Asheville, North Carolina. A Hundred Lies was eventually released on a much smaller label and garnered some attention, including a four star review in Rolling Stone, and Malcolm began booking his own shows.
Down The River is Malcolm’s first independent release in several years (the album will be distributed by Proper Music) and reunites Malcolm with Ray Kennedy, who produced earlier efforts like Gamblin’ House and For the Mission Baby.
See: www.malcolmholcombe.com for more information.