THE VOICE of Appalachia will resonate through Tybee Post Theater this weekend.
Singer-songwriter Malcolm Holcombe brings his timeless, Southern-steeped sound back to Savannah. The North Carolinian has spent his career capturing the character and cracks of his Blue Ridge Mountain home, spinning stories of callused hands, struggles, and seasoned experience with a warmly ragged voice and authentic, spellbinding poeticism.
Born in Asheville and raised in Weaverville, North Carolina, Holcombe played as a member of several regional bands as a young man, shifting into a solo career later on. Later, he teamed up to perform in a trio with Ray Sisk and released an album, Trademark, in Sam Milner.
The 1990s found Holcombe in Nashville; in 1996, after performing at countless open mic nights, he signed with Geffen Records. He released his debut record, A Hundred Lies, in 1999 through Hip-O Records.
Over the years, he has released 13 total solo albums, composed for Jonah Smith and Jonathan Edwards, and contributed to several compilations. Throughout his career, Holcombe has shared the stage with performers like Merle Haggard, Leon Russell, Cat Power, Richard Thompson, Wilco, Shelby Lynne, and more.
Currently, Holcombe is touring in support of his latest album, Pretty Little Troubles, released on April 7, 2017 through Gypsy Eyes Music.
Holcombe entrusted Darrell Scott, a friend of around 27 years, to produce the record. A prolific singer-songwriter and member of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy, Scott offered a keen eye and trusted intuition for the project.
“I just wanted some camaraderie with brains,” Holcombe says of the collaboration. “We’d just pick each other’s brains, hang out, sit and play some music, and have a good time. We’re friends. We work together when we can and try to exist on the planet like everybody else. We got together, Darrell brought the engineer, we did some pickin’, and we just tried to put some chords to these baby dolls.”
“We’re all songwriters,” he continues. “Everybody’s a songwriter. And we’re all storytellers, even the old cave paintings. That’s about what we’re doing these days--making up stories, trying to keep each other on the planet. Some of are trying to hep each other while the other ones are destroying each other. It’s a yin and yang thing, the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
Pretty Little Troubles unique, shadowy Americana is flush with banjo, violin, Celtic musings, and bluesy moments. A master storyteller, Holcombe creates a portrait of the hardships of his home over the album’s twelve tracks.
Holcombe wrote the contents of Pretty Little Troubles over the course of a few months.
“I would get up every morning, chain smoke, drink coffee, and go from there,” he says of his process. “I eat a couple eggs, try to get out of bed, open my eyes, and take it from there.”
He credits his wife with selecting the album’s centerpiece song as its title track.
“She’s a god title picker,” he attests. “I always bounce ideas off of her. It’s good to have someone you trust grease the frying pan a little bit, you know, trying to cook up an idea.”
Holcombe looks forward to returning to Savannah, where he’ll take the stage with Jason Bible of The Train Wrecks.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he says. “My wife’s coming with me — we love the area.”