Malcolm Holcombe: To Drink The Rain - Album of the Month - March 2011

~ Thursday, 10 March 2011
To Drink The Rain is the 8th studio album from Holcombe but I am sure that he will be as new a name to most as he is to me. Holcombe lives in the hills of North Carolina, an area that just seems to have the ability to produce artist that know how to make passionate and expressive music that is as timeless as it is magical. Just look at David Childers, Charlie Poole and The Avett Brothers if you need proof. Lucinda Williams said that Holcombe is ' old soul and a modern day blues poet' and that he is. He has a voice with a world weary warmth that makes every word sound like poetry on this collection of 12 stunning songs.

One Leg At A Time open the album in fine style with the influence of the likes of Doc Watson evident in this guitar 'rag'. It is hard not to warm to this record immediately with a simplicity to it that extends from the lyrics to the production and some brilliant playing from the assembled cast of musicians as is evident in the relentless drive of Bobby Kallus's drums on Behind The Number One which is matched by Luke Bulla's fiddle and Jared Tyler's dobro. This is a great song with lyrics that reflects Halcombe's restless nature.

The beautiful ballad Becky's Blessed (Backporch Flowers) is one of the albums highlights, which brings out the best in Halcombe's throaty vocal drawl. Halcombe has lived the good life (or bad life depending on your point of view) and fought his demons but To Drink The Rain sees him in the most settled period of his life. At peace with himself and with his God. Often compared to Tom Waits and Bob Dylan, and you can see why these comparisons stick, he is perhaps more in the mould of Mississippi John Hurt and Townes Van Zandt but don't be fooled into thinking you have heard it all before. Oh no, Holcombe has his own way of doing things that is backed up with 50 years plus of experience to draw on. If you don't believe me, just listen to the title track and thank me later.

This is a brilliant album that has been beautifully produced by Jared Tyler. It just makes me want to see him play live so much.

[][][][][] (5/5)