Frank Sinatra once said “it’s not the song it’s the singer” and if singers are your thing you should definitely listen to the growly voice of North Carolina native Malcolm Holcombe.
With a voice like a canoe being dragged across the pavement his earthy, world-weary words turn these country songs into fables and brings a wisdom that only comes with age. He’s surrounded himself with some very good musicians and a female vocalist in Iris DeMent who brings a softer, light voice to act as the Ying to his Yang and compliments his gruff voice perfectly.
What I’m learning about American roots music is, like blues and folk, it isn’t simply a reflection of its surroundings, but also acts as a lesson of its landscape, it’s people and it’s history and you can feel this history and legacy drip from the music here.
The songs are more like stories set to music with Holcombe addressing the listener like a small town preacher addressing his flock, this isn’t music about quarterbacks on prom night or even Stetson-wearing cowboys, this is the dark nights under the stars, pine forests on the trail and fur-trappers battling the elements.
If you like your country music performed by a frontier troubadour with grit in his voice and fire in the belly, this is for you.