To Drink the Rain
[Music Road Records (2011)]
It’s surprising to consider that a talent such as Malcolm Holcombe is still relatively unknown in spite of having released eight albums. Hopefully the Music Road label will be able to spread the word about the new addition to their already impressive roster. While the North Carolina native has been compared to John Prine and Tom Waits, another fitting comparison would be a grittier Guy Clark, one whose influences take in country blues as well as country music. Some of Holcombe’s past work had a tendency towards obtuseness, but that’s less of an issue with To Drink the Rain. Holcombe’s croaky baritone has its own appeal but the quality of the songs, along with the very impressive production by longtime sideman Jared Taylor (dobro, acoustic slide, and harmony vocals), also make the album one to cherish. Luke Bulla (fiddle) Dave Roe (upright bass), and Bobby Kallus (drums) should also be singled out for their flawless support.
Given the singer’s troubled past, some of the songs on To Drink the Rain come across as redemptive. Holcombe’s web site claims that the new album is “authentic one-take performances that strike the perfect balance between gravel and grace.” Indeed!
—Paul-Emile Comeau (Comeauville, NS, Canada)