Album, Single and EP Reviews


  Down the River by Malcolm Holcombe

Down the River cover art

Artist: Malcolm Holcombe
Title: Down the River
Catalogue Number: No catalogue number
Review Format: CD
Release Year: 2012

Let’s start with the most striking thing about this CD – Malcolm’s vocals. Terms like whiskey soaked or rough don’t come close to what this man’s larynx sounds like. Quite frankly, it’s as if someone has taught a bear to sing, or more accurately growl in tune. Imagine our own Dave Arcari crossed with an angle grinder and you’re just about there. Don’t take that as a criticism, it’s a great and unique sound in these days of gloss and auto-tune.

Malcolm has created an album of contrasts; the anger of tracks like “Twisted Arms” (which has a distinct John Hiatt feel) and “White Wash Job” is off-set by the wistful melancholy found in “In Your Mercy” or “The Crossing” with bluegrass, country and gospel being well covered in the mainly acoustic arrangements. The CD also boasts impressive guests with Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle both contributing their talents.

This is an album for those who like the darker side of Americana. The sound is raw, muscular and unpolished, but still well produced and clear. On the lyrical side, Malcolm rails against modern uncaring society and wraps it in dark and more electrified arrangements while he brings out his softer side within more traditional sounding folk treatments.

Review Date: November 6, 2012