Malcolm Holcombe growls in a characteristic rasp that has defined Bob Dylan’s latter career, but there is an intensity there that makes the listener sit up and take notice. “For the Mission Baby”, to be released on Echo Mountain Records, follows a string of critically acclaimed Holcombe records, mostly recorded in North Carolina after Holcombe’s expulsion from Nashville. Holcombe had been signed by Geffen records in the mid-90’s, but problems with drugs and alcohol derailed his career (Steve Earle once called him “the best singer songwriter I ever threw out of my studio”). Sobering up and moving back to his home state of North Carolina led Holcombe to reacquire his muse and “For the Mission Baby” maybe his best work to date.
Holcombe again works with the usual suspects from his critical break through Gamblin’ House. Ray Kennedy returns as the producer. Familiar faces like picker Tim O’Brien, bassist Jared Tyler and drummer Kenny Malone back Holcombe up with a seamless blend of Appalachian folk and traditional blues. The record rambles along at a confident pace. While Holcombe’s raspy voice may be closer to Dylan’s, the edge in his voice is closer to a razor sharp Kris Kristofferson or Tom Waits. Like those legendary songwriters, Holcombe’s songs manage to sound timeless and original, not an easy feat. Holcombe is an artist just under the radar; the kind of artist that takes a listen or two to appreciate, but worth the effort.
Photograph by Bill Emory
About the author: Specializes in Dead, Drunk, and Nakedness..... Former College Radio DJ and Current Craft Beer Nerd