To honour his two decades in the music industry songwriter Malcolm Holcombe has re-recorded a number of his favourite compositions
alcolm Holcombe has released a career spanning retrospective to celebrate his 20-year musical career. However, unlike similar anthologies he has re-recorded the tracks at Nashville’s legendary RCA Studios giving them a raw edge which suits his rootsy tendencies.
As with all of his releases, the first thing that hits you is the sandpaper rough vocal. It’s the sound of a thousand cigarettes, a chain smoker spending another night lamenting the rough hand he’s been dealt in between each long drag. In the live studio, Holcombe is able to pack even more gravel into songs like Butcher In Town, I Call The Shots and Pitiful Blues.
Holcombe’s homespun lyrics are the album’s other driving force. Authentic and bordering on esoteric, they offer a unique glimpse into the songwriter’s world. On I Feel Like A Train he sings “when I was a young ‘un shovelled coal in the stoker / pulled out the clinkers with a claw in my hand” and *Early Mornin’ sees him “riding on the back of Old Nellie, Daddy Pa setting tobacca / Leather reins in his big ol’ hands, I hear I’m geeing and a hawing”.
The RCA Sessions comes with an accompanying DVD showing Holcombe and his band performing the tracks live in the studio and it’s a setting which brings out the passion in all of them. Faithful fans and anyone looking to hear a true American voice would be wise to lend this grizzled veteran an ear.
Verdict: Rootsy and authentic Americana.