A live performer like no other; at times Zen-like, at others quite terrifying in his intensity. Once you’ve seen Malcolm Holcombe, you won’t forget him. This time with a brand new album, ‘Another Black Hole’ and accompanied by long-time friend and accompanist, Jared Tyler on dobro.
Malcolm grew up in western North Carolina, home to some of the planet’s oldest mountains and some of America’s deepest musical traditions. Radio and TV fuelled Malcolm’s musical passions as a kid, and music became even more important after he lost both his parents relatively young.
He toured with bands and landed in Nashville, where he took up an inconspicuous station at the back of the house – the very back – at Douglas Corner, one of the city’s best singer/songwriter venues. Stories began to circulate about the mysterious dishwasher with the subterranean voice and oracle-like talent. Sadly so did stories of wildly inconsistent behaviour – profound sweetness crossed by bouts of stunning abrasiveness. As the great Steve Earle said: ‘Malcolm Holcombe is the best songwriter I ever threw out of my recording studio’!
He flirted with an official music career. But his stunning debut album made for Geffen Records was abruptly shelved, producing melodrama that only exacerbated Malcolm’s drinking and depression. A business that once had a place for complicated genius turned its back on him, and he teetered near the edge. Moving back to the North Carolina hills proved a powerful tonic. Holcombe let in help where before he’d pushed it away. With deep faith in God and a commitment to his art, Holcombe repaired himself and his career.
And that’s a pretty good nod to the effect of hearing Holcombe sing. If you’ve not seen him in a live setting, this is what you have to do. His presence is spooky and timeless, as one imagines it was like to see Son House or Leadbelly. No emotional stone is left unturned.
While you plan for this important experience, collect Malcolm Holcombe albums… He is cryptic, demanding, polarizing, bold, passionate and free, a combination badly needed in our time of infinite trivia. He’s even more interesting for having made a remarkable journey of recovery and discovery.
‘songs that are at one moment frightening in their intensity, the next tugging your heartstrings’ – Acoustic Magazine
Renowned for live performances that glow with gospel fervour in a voice that has been described as ‘half howl, half hosanna’ – BBC Country