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'Tricks of the Trade'   

-  Label: 'Need To Know Music'
-  Genre: 'Alt/Country' -  Release Date: '20th August 2021'

Our Rating:
Malcolm Holcombe is a prolific force of nature. Although he is now well into his 60s, he shows no sign of slowing down or mellowing out. He has released over 16 records since the mid-90’s. Since 2015 alone he’s completed six full length albums and a separate series of singles.

Major health crises, pandemics, rampant injustice and blinkered governments all serve to feed his rage rather than diminish his strength. He pours righteous anger into these twelve new songs while retaining the instinctive ability to address universal themes.

This is not just a big ego spouting off about the evils in the world since Holcombe never sets himself above the common herd. In the bluesy opener , he’s resigned to taking his place on board the Money Train just like everyone else : ”I got a ticket for the money train/I gotta hot tub, a bathtub, a solar powered guitar/ I clean up pretty good and I turn it up louder.”

His social conscience is as finely-tuned as ever. The plight of the poor and hungry feature prominently in On Tennessee Land, he rails against border cops separating migrant families in Your Kin and Appalachian poverty is the subject of Damn Rainy Day .

His voice may be grizzled but the romantic refrain of Lenora Cynthia shows he has a heart of gold. Ron de la Vega makes an elegant cello contribution to this track.

Otherwise. Holcombe relies on tried and tested accomplices, including Dave Roe and Jared Tyler. The record was made at Roe’s Seven Deadly Sins Studios in Nashville. Mary Gauthier and Jaimee Harris add their voices to a number of songs, including Higher Ground which combines shuffling guitar riffs with a Gospel chant; ”I got freedom to choose/I got freedom to lose.”

He rounds things off with Shaky Ground, dreaming that a rain may come to wash away the injustice in the world yet knowing full well this is never going to come to pass.

Malcolm Holcombe’s website
  author: Martin Raybould

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HOLCOMBE, MALCOLM - Tricks of the Trade