Album: Malcolm Holcombe, Gamblin' House (Echo Mountain)
Friday 05 December 2008
Malcolm Holcombe has been recording for more than two decades now, and it sounds like he's been chain-smoking throughout, his voice on Gamblin' House boasting the gruff geniality of Tom Waits with a bad sore throat.
Holcombe is one of the authentic folk-blues spirits the American South keeps throwing up – in his case, the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The bluesy dobro and banjo stylings of Ed Snodderly recall Kelly Joe Phelps, particularly on the opener "My Ol' Radio", which lauds the radio as an expression of one's personality – if you can find the right station. The ebullient "Goodtimes" finds Holcombe rattling off a series of observations and images, several doubtless glimpsed through the bottom of a glass. But there's a warm heart beating beneath that crusty bark, surfacing most strongly in the tributes to his wife, "Cynthia Margaret" and "Baby Likes a Love Song", and the poignant "Blue Flame", where mournful fiddle and the funereal burr of bowed bass underscore his conviction that "no words can hold me close enough to you". Most moving of all, though, is his portrait of an infirm, abandoned man in "You Don't Come See Me Anymore", keenly aware of how "my catchin' up is runnin' outta time".
Pick of the album:'You Don't Come See Me Anymore', 'My Ol' Radio', 'Goodtimes', 'Blue Flame'
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
FestivalsFive ways to avoid the portable toilets
Jurassic WorldThe results are completely brilliant
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Iain Duncan Smith's expenses credit card is suspended after he runs up £1,000 debt to taxpayer
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 5 Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck to divorce and end their 10-year marriage
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Tunisia beach attack: How can British Muslims respond to the latest outrages?