Mr. Sipp – KNOCK A HOLE IN IT

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Mr. Sipp
KNOCK A HOLE IN IT
Malaco Records

Funkin’ Up The Blues With a Huge Spoon Full Of Soul.

This came so far out of left field opening track Knock a Hole In It hit me like a Side-Winder missile!
Mr. Sipp aka The Mississippi Blues Child but born Castro Coleman’s guitar growls and squeals like a tigress on heat while the really tight rhythm section pull out all of the stops to make the casual listener’s eyes pop out of their head on a truly cool Blues song.
Start as you mean to go on? Hell yeah!
Track 2 Bad Feeling slows things down a little bit; but only a touch as Mr. Sipp tells us about the woman in his life who is ‘driving him insane’…….’because you got another man.’ OK the sentiment is as old as time; but Coleman’s guitar strings must be made out of razor wire the way he fires notes out of the speakers and somehow makes his sweet voice sound as if his throat is full of flames.
Apparently Mr. Sipp is a best renowned Gospel singer; but you wouldn’t know it from what you hear here……this IS the Blues baby; but the type your Mother told you not to listen to.
There are elements of Johnny Winter and Buddy Guy here; but there’s also hefty aroma of Larry ‘Guitar’ Watson and Sly Stone too on tracks like Turn Up and Stalking Me.
Then Love Yourself is straight outta the George Benson Singer-Guitarist High School……slow, sweet and sexy…..mm..mmm….mmmmm.
Two titles will be very familiar to RM readers; with Little Wing being a sexy, slow and very emotional midnight ride with Mr. Sipp’s guitar playing sounding like liquid gold on a song that tips it’s hat at Hendrix’s words but going in a completely new direction; although the note perfect rendition of Star Spangled Banner that it morphs into is straight from the Maestro himself and closes the album perfectly.
On the other hand Love Don’t Live Here Anymore draws on his Gospel background with Sipp using his amazing voice as in instrument in it’s own rite; as the guitar is slowly strummed and the strings section take pride of place in the background.
Choosing a favourite song for you hasn’t been easy; but even though I keep going back to that amazing title track Knock a Hole In It, there’s a real gem tucked away in the middle too….Juke Joint really conveys everything I love about this type of music; combining old-school R&B with some red hot 70’s style guitar playing and a sassy horn section coming and going like the breeze behind that stunning and expressive voice.
Some days I love my job; especially when I discover albums like this and I hope you delve in and fall in love with Mr. Sipp too.

https://www.malaco.com/

Released April 7th 2017

Robyn Hitchcock – INTRODUCING

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Robyn Hitchcock
INTRODUCING
Yep Roc Records

Set the Controls For The Heart of a Space Oddity!!!

I’ve not heard much of Robyn Hitchcock’s’ back catalogue and once walked out one of his gigs……seriously!
So, I was a bit nonplussed when I received his latest and 21st recorded work. It sat on the desk for a couple of weeks until intrigue got the better of me……WAHAY!
I couldn’t believe my ears when the 60’s meets 70’s Glam of opening song I Want To Tell You About What I Want crashed out of the speakers!!!!!!
A heady mix of early Pink Floyd, late Small Faces and a smattering of Bowie’s flat Mockney enunciation make for an amazing start to an amazing album.
This is followed by a PsYch-Glam ode to the original ‘feminist’ Lady Writers….. Virginia Wolf. Whip smart guitars, funky bass and Hitchcock’s insightful lyrics make for a very intriguing three minutes.
In keeping with the heady mix of 60’s Psychedelia and 70’s Glam Rock, there’s an almost poetic feel to many of the songs……Sayonara Judge and Autumn Sunglasses being perfect examples of a songwriter having fun with words and music; and defying you to decipher any (if any) hidden messages.
Who cares if songs like the Country crossover of 1970 in Aspic and Mad Shelley’s Letterbox don’t exactly ‘make sense’……but when did Pop Music have to make sense? Just stick the headphones on and crank the level to eleven!!!! Enjoy the moment…. just enjoy the moment.
For me, on an album of 10 delights there are two real highlights; I Pray When I’m Drunk which is a real British Pub Rocker of a toe-tapping hoe-down of a tune and the one song that probably is a ‘true story’ of sorts; Raymond and The Wires.
Here Robyn takes us back to simpler times in 1964 when a young lad takes a trip into the big city with his Dad and takes an exciting ride on an electric trolley-bus. The detail and the sentiment throughout is razor sharp and heart-warming; plus it reminded me of my first ever trip into Newcastle with my Mother in December 1963…..which stays with me today.
Robyn is a touch older than me, but we both come from the same generation when buying an LP or even a single was a ‘considered decision’; meaning I discovered only Pink Floyd in 1973 or 4 via a 99p compilation called Relics about the same time I was hidden away in my bedroom listening to Tyrannosaurus Rex, Hunky Dory, Ziggy and the White Album…….all of which I suspect Robyn Hitchcock did when putting together these glorious songs.
INTRODUCING has been a complete surprise for me and I guess you too; but should and indeed will appeal to us music fans of ‘a special vintage’ but could also find its way into the collection of those cool kids with beards and tattoos that have recently discovered the delights of Robyn Hitchcock’s influences too.

http://www.robynhitchcock.com/

RELEASED April 21st 2017

Angaleena Presley – WRANGLED

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Angaleena Presley
WRANGLED
Mining Lite/Thirty Tigers

The Feistiest Country Album of the Last 10 Years!

We absolutely loved Angaleena Presley’s debut album AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS and it’s still firmly ensconced in the company car for those long road trips through the Heartlands of NE England.
After such a strong record it’s wise to be cautious of any follow up but…….right from the sigh that opens the raw and heartfelt Dreams Don’t Come True you know we are still in the same Blue Collar/Friday Night Lights small town America territory. In fairness the sentiment of kids struggling to emulate their parents ‘successes’ that scratches your heart on this song are true of youngsters all over the world; and the weary tune and Angaleena’s breathy vocals set the scene very nicely indeed.
Who knows where Traditional Country Music ends and Alt. Country begins; but Ms. Presley straddles both genres with ease on songs like Only Blood and Good Girl Down among many others here. This song also happens to be the first time that Angaleena and her friends and Pistol Annies Miranda Lambert and Ashley Monroe have written together for a long while; and….their class shows.
While Angaleena is very much her own woman and pretty much has her own distinctive ‘sound’ her subject matter and the punchy way she gets her message across on Outlaw, Bless My Heart and the title track WRANGLED evokes memories of Loretta Lynn, Bobbie Gentry and more recently Elizabeth Cook. I don’t know if this is ‘feminist’ writing or whatever; but the women in Presley’s songs are all as tough as old rope but with hearts the size of Texas…..but don’t mess with them.
As is my won’t I played the album 2 or 3 times before reading the accompanying notes; so went “AHA!” when I read that the grizzled voice that opens Cheer Up Little Darling is none other than Guy Clark, who actually co-wrote this beautiful ode with Angaleena and features his self-made guitar and mandola played by Shawn Camp in the Great Man’s style; adding extra pathos to an already tearjerker of a song.
Angaleena co-wrote all 12 tracks and the depth of material shows what an exceptional talent she is; especially our two favourite songs.
Mrs. Magpie insists that High School is as good as anything she’s ever heard, as it details those ‘secrets’ that schools and towns have and try to keep; but never do. The first character attempts to hide her pregnancy and there’s a sports-jock popping pills to try and emulate his hero, father. Sadly, a sign of the times, but the way Angaleena turns this soap opera into a song is extraordinary.
I’m not 100% certain why; but I love the spirited way Angaleena cranks up the tension on Mama I Tried. Electric guitars instead of acoustic help get the message across as she sounds like she’s so angry phlegm is coming out with the words……powerful stuff indeed.
There’s only one flaw on the album; but it’s a biggie. Half way through there’s a rocker called Country; what’s wrong with that you ask? Well for some reason it’s a collaboration with a Hippity-Hoppitty Rapper called Yelawolf and….well…..his part really, really jars with everything else here. The song don’t need him….it will be a showstopper anyways; but…..hey….kids today; what can you tell them?
That apart, WRANGLED will certainly feature in our Top 10 Albums of 2017……in it’s own way it’s as groundbreaking as Elizabeth Cook’s Balls album and could and should mark the next big step in Angaleena Presley’s burgeoning career.

Released April 21st 2017

http://www.angaleenapresley.com/

Sam Outlaw – TENDERHEART

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Sam Outlaw
TENDERHEART
Thirty Tigers/Cooking Vinyl

The New King of Laid Back Country Strikes Again.

In the last couple of years there’s been a slew of new, young Stetson wearing Country singer-songwriters; at the very least some are ‘good’ but a couple, and I count Sam Outlaw as one ….are truly exceptional, as his 2015 debut ANGELENO proved.
Less than two years later he returns with more of the same; but with added maturity and occasionally ‘edge’ to his writing.
Throwing us the first curve ball Sam goes deep, really deep on opening track the sweepingly atmospheric Everyone’s Looking For Home. A slow burner of a ballad finds Sam Outlaw in a very dark place, and the inclusion of an almost funereal sounding Mariachi band adds an extra dimension to an already beautiful song.
Bottomless Mimosas, which follows is one of those songs that make you go “OOOOOHHHH!” when you here it. The gentle guitars, strummed bass and the tsch-tsch of the drums eventually melt behind Outlaw’s softly expressive voice and when the (now cheery) Mariachi band drift in the world and its troubles all drift away into the sunset. What’s not to like?
Outlaw lays his ‘feelings’ out on the line for all to see and dissect on several songs here with She’s Playing Hard To Get (Rid Of) and the Modern Classic that is Now She Tells Me gently squeezing your heartstrings until you gasp for breath.
In real life Sam Outlaw is in a very happy and stable relationship; but boy can he write a tearjerker! Diamond Ring and Two Broken Hearts are both the type of Country songs you pray to hear on FM radio, but never do because Music Row don’t write ’em like this any-more…..but Sam Outlaw does.
When it comes to selecting a ‘favourite track’ I don’t set any parameters; you don’t do you? Music doesn’t work that way…….the best songs just ‘touch you’ for no reason that makes sense.
Here I finally pulled it back to three songs…..the album is so good it could be any actually; with the odd subject matter of Bougainvillea, I Think being an extraordinary song and beautiful with it. Sam looks back to his late teenage years when he would sit and ‘drink beers and chat’ with his matronly next door neighbour neighbour, whose name and the ‘flower she would wear’ he can no longer remember. Not a tale of love (lost or unrequited) just a woman with lots of life stories he once knew who is slowly being erased from his memory as he himself grows older. Quite delightful.
The title track TENDERHEART does what a title track should do; encapsulate what the album is all about and this one does it with grace and style. A cleverly worded song with a gorgeous melody and is as Country as Country gets these days.
But, as the shuffle mode on my I-Phone has been trying to tell me the award goes to All My Life. Compared to the rest it’s quite a simple love song (the best ones always are) Sam tells us that he’s travelled the world ‘looking for a wife’ and there she was in his home town all along! It’s a bit of a Romeo and Juliet theme as my favourite line suggests “We are still to young/and your father owns a gun/I think you are just the girl to make me settle down.”
It’s a fun little ditty with a razor sharp sense of humour and Outlaw’s trademark worldly wise observations in every line…..all coupled with a classy melody too. A WINNER.
The album closes with another sad heartbreaker, Look At You Now and as it fades to the groove you will take a deep breath, sigh and either press Play or turn your disc over to side 1 again and drop the needle onto track #1 and before you know it it will be 3AM and you haven’t gone to bed.
Country Music comes in many shapes and formats, and I pretty much love all of it but on a long sunny day nothing beats slipping on a Jimmy Buffett, Lyle Lovett or perhaps Don Gibson and now we can add Sam Outlaw to that list.

http://www.samoutlaw.com/
Released April 14th 2017

Cory Branan – ADIOS

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Cory Branan
ADIOS
Bloodshot Records

One of America’s Unsung Lyricists and Storytellers Strikes Gold.

Anything released on Chicago’s Bloodshot Records is bound to jump to the top of our ‘To Do’ list at RMHQ; and this follow up to one of our favourite albums of 2014, The No-Hit Wonder went there on merit.
For the uninitiated Cory Branan is the embodiment of what we know as Americana……he is first and foremost a storyteller, that uses whatever musical genre that springs to mind to back up his worldly wise lyrics and the end result is always fascinating, interesting and memorable.
Brannan’s fourth album starts with a jaunty Celtic Country romp that features some wonderful couplets……”Whatcha gonna do with all that youth/Just because it’s brutal don’t make it truth,” among them.
For a three-piece they surely kick up quite a racket and the use of a Xylophone might be a first for me in Americana…..unless you know otherwise.
This is followed by a more traditional bittersweet Countryesque love song, Imogene but the imaginative way Branan twists his words and feelings certainly isn’t from Bakersfield or Music Row.
The short and sweet (plus bittersweet) songs on this 14 track album come thick and fast; never letting the listener settle as each song tells its own valuable story and demands your attention at the expense of what came before.
Just when you think you have a handle on Branan’s train of thought he throws in a beautifully dark ballad Cold Blue Moonlight, that conjures up memories of Chris Isaak; then immediately follows this with the contentious punk rocker Another Nightmare in America.
The dramatic story in that latter song has Branan singing from the viewpoint of a ‘racist killer cop’….uncomfortable – yes, but essential listening.
Later Branan blew my mind with his exquisite acoustic guitar playing on Equinox; and the song itself ain’t half bad either.
As we draw towards the end Branan lobs in a musical hand-grenade with another Punk Rocker, Visiting Hours. Unlike most other American Punk music, there’s a great story in among the fiery guitars and punchy drums.
We have to spin back to the beginning, track two actually for our favourite song here…..Blacksburg. A horn section that would do the E Street Band proud coupled with a tightly wrapped love song combine to give us one of the finest Country Rockers I or you have heard in donkey’s years and really shows the world what a great songwriter Cory Branan is.
ADIOS finally closes with the beautiful Country-Folk of My Father Was an Accordion Player. Rolling piano, tsch-tsch drumming, gently strummed bass and of course an obligatory accordion solo coupled with a singer-guitarist paying homage to his late departed father is the perfect way to close this Minor Masterpiece.

https://www.corybranan.com/

Released April 7th 2017

Rainbreakers – RISE UP (EP)

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Rainbreakers
RISE UP (EP)
Self-Release/Bandcamp

Atmospheric British Blues With a Heart Full Of Soul.

This has sat on the top of the ‘to do’ pile for nearly a month now; predominantly because I presumed it was going to be another ‘foot to the floor’ British Rock Band with only a nod in the direction of what I know as The Blues.
Ha! What do I know?
My eyebrows nearly flew of my head; such was my surprise with the opening track On My Own. A tightly wrapped tale of a break-up; full of powerful, yet restrained electric guitar and barbed-wire rhythm section protect singer Ben Edwards as he tells her ‘that it’s over’ and it’s better for both of them. Oh what it must be like to be young again.
I’m not saying that Rainbreakers are ‘groundbreaking, as such….but I can’t think of a definitive band that they remind me of. There are bits of Wishbone Ash and Bad Company there; but none of the pomp or swagger and definitely none of the boring guitar solos!
Waiting on You is a late night Blues tune worthy of someone like Robert Cray; but with a softer and more accessible message at it’s heart; plus it’s a story many of us experienced in our younger days.
Perception has a sort of Santana meets Paul Rogers vibe to it; all shimmering cymbals and stretched guitar notes as Edwards gives a very emotional vocal performance on a skilful will they/won’t they song.
The 5 track EP comes to an all too quick close with Living Free; the type of intense Blues song when the singer pours his heart out with his eyes closed and the mic lead tightly wound around his fist. Some singers do this for show; but I get the feeling that Edwards is singing from the bottom of his broken heart and has lived every word.
Which all brings us back to the beginning; well Track 2 to be precise; for the Rocking Magpie’s Favourite Track. Even without reading the accompanying notes I was drawn to Rise Up, with its feeling of a steamy night in Memphis groove and Edwards razor sharp singing; but when you discover that it’s about the world these kids have live in following the Brexit Vote in the UK, the onward march of Right Wing Politics in Europe and of course Donald J Trump becoming President of the US of A, it takes on a while new resonance. This is no ‘Call to Arms Man the Barricades’ Protest Song; rather more a reflective, thoughtful set of prose to make you think and then ‘do something appropriate’…….don’t sit there feeling sorry for yourselves!
I’m impressed with this, the Rainbreakers 2nd EP; the songwriting and story telling is exceptional for ones so young and the way the band play; powerful yet restrained really does bode well for their future.

http://www.therainbreakers.com/

Released April 7th 2017

Sean Rowe – NEW LORE

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Sean Rowe
NEW LORE
ANTI-

A Stunning Collection of Articulate, Raw and Emotional Songs.

I’ve only ever seen Sean Rowe perform in concert once; and he scared me! I first noticed him as he stalked the foyer of the venue looking like an angry and slightly reformed Hells Angel.
During his support slot he stopped mid song to chide someone for not listening, or something. Trust me, we all ‘listened’ very intently, just in case there were questions afterwards!
Jump forward a couple of years and I was having lunch with my friends Bap Kennedy and Willie Richardson in down-town Belfast, when the conversation got around to ‘music we were listening to;’ and Bap told me he had just discovered Sean Rowe and spent ten minutes or more describing the effect the guy was having on him and ‘how he wished that he could write like him.’
As soon as I opened the envelope containing this disc I thought “Ooh…..Bap will want to hear this!” But tragically Bap died on 1st November 2016; and he won’t get to hear Sean Rowe’s latest album NEW LORE…..which has made it a very difficult album for me to review.
The first song Gas Station Rose opens with some delightfully strummed Folk guitar then, much to my surprise the gruff voiced Rowe goes on to deliver a beautiful love song as strings swoop and soar around his words like swallows and hummingbirds.
I love the little chuckle that introduces the snappy Newton’s Cradle; an upbeat tune that masks a song with a dark story at it’s heart. The title comes from the line “Every time we fight/It’s like a Newton’s Cradle.” which is quite a novel description and something Bap would have appreciated.
It has taken a while for me to get my head around this album; but eventually the ‘penny dropped’ and it’s not just Rowe’s rich baritone but the detail in songs like It’s Not Hard To Say Goodbye Sometimes and The Vine that reminded me of ……..Leonard Cohen. Seriously, once I ‘got that’ everything fell into place.
A couple of songs really, really stand out, You Keep Coming Alive is almost frightening in it’s brooding intensity and I Can’t Make a Living From Holding You is a Masterclass in songwriting; but …..and this might make me contrary; my favourite song here is a love song to, for and about Rowe’s child.
Twee? Hell no……but the way Sean describes his feelings about the here and now then his fears for their future are simply beautiful; and the delicate production make for a timeless song that will live on far beyond any of us listening today.
Recorded in Memphis at Sam Phillips’ Recording Studio; NEW LORE isn’t like anything I’ve heard from Sean Lowe before; the songs and stories are still as open, intense and raw as expected but the production by Matt Ross makes them warm and accessible; which the magnificent lyrics deserve.

http://www.seanrowe.net/

Released April 7th 2017

Matt Andersen – Who Are You Listening To? (SINGLE)

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Matt Andersen
Who Are You Listening To? (SINGLE)
True North Records

I’ve been a fan of Canadian singer-songwriter for quite a few years now; and his HONEST MAN album got me through a very dark time following my Prostate Cancer operation a year or so ago.
One of my favourite tracks was WHO ARE YOU LISTENING TO? A songwriter’s rallying call for people not to take things politicians say ‘too literally’ and therefore ‘think for themselves.
When Andersen wrote the song America (and the UK)were both in the throws of nasty pre-Election campaigns when all sides of the political divide got immersed in very personal scare-mongering.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well; the world now knows the answer to that conundrum!
Sadly not a lot has changed with the politicians and Matt has now released the song as a single ….with a ‘radio edit’; although it will be a very brave DJ who plays it!!!!
So; go but it.

RELEASED April 3rd 2017

Carrie Elkin THE PENNY COLLECTOR

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Carrie Elkin
THE PENNY COLLECTOR
Self-Release

Sensational Songs from the Poetic Edge of the Folk Spectrum.

Oh dear; this album by one of my favourite singer-songwriters very nearly got overlooked; such is the organisation on my desk at RMHQ.
Thankfully I found it just in time to scream its delights from the rooftops prior to its release.
I think I’ve seen Carrie play live 4 or 5 times now; either alongside her husband Danny Schmidt or more usually with Sam Baker and each time I hear her I think “She is too good for this, I want to see and hear her sing on her own!”
Then; as if by magic here is her fourth (or sixth if you count her firs 2 self-releases) album and; well…..keep reading.
Opening track New Mexico is absolutely spellbinding from start to finish; with Carrie’s crystal clear voice as she pours her heart out, dealing with the death of her father. Don’t worry. This isn’t maudlin; it’s a beautiful loving tribute for and about a very interesting man; and one I now wished I’d met.
This is followed by Always on the Run; possibly but less obviously about her father again, but words that touched me quite deeply as I lost my eldest brother only a couple of weeks prior to first hearing this touching song.
As usual I’d listened to THE PENNY COLLECTOR 3 or 4 times before reeding the accompanying Press Release; only to find that these songs were written and collated in a year where Carrie not only lost her father but gave birth to her first child; a daughter, which makes a lot of sense as songs like Tilt-A -Whirl and Niagara do sound like a wordsmith looking back at and reassessing their life in the most articulate manner.
With that theory in mind the snappy My Brother Said becomes ever more ‘interesting’ if it’s to be taken literally. I won’t give anything way; apart from the aggressively played electric guitar and the timbre in her voice resurrected some memories from my own life and I guess many out there will give a rye smile when they hear it too.
Again it was only when I read the notes that I realised the almost otherworldly rendition of American Tune wasn’t Carrie’s own words but those of Paul Simon! If you are going to cover a song; at least change it around…..and Carrie alongside producer Neilson Hubbard have turned this one upside down and inside out to create a minor masterpiece.
This is a compelling set of songs and must be heard as a complete work; but two songs in particular affected me quite profoundly, both very very different reasons and from both ends of the spectrum in Carrie’s ‘story’.
And Then The Birds Came is another song about her father; and with my own brother’s death still raw it caught me quite by surprise. While specifically about Richard Elkin (1942-2015) the sentiment is general enough to be about any loved one who has left our lives; which is the hallmark of a great songwriter.
The other Live Wire is about a rebellious daughter who was ‘Daddy’s little girl’ but ‘ran away to the Carnival’ before returning. I neither know nor care if this is a true story; because it’s such a cool and absorbing tale that I visualise an accompanying video I’m going to direct. It’s in mono/sepia with shots of Carrie singing and strumming her guitar interspersing with the character drifter in and out of shot via dream sequences……just a thought, well; it’s my thoughts actually.
If you’ve not heard of Carrie Elkin before; think Nanci Griffith or Emmylou Harris with an extra spark and sparkle and you will be somewhere in the vicinity.
Coincidentally (as if!) Carrie will be touring the UK alongside her husband Danny Schmidt in May and June; hopefully Danny will have a sore throat the night they come to Newcastle so I can hear Carrie Elkin sing these and others in all her singular glory (only kidding Dan).

http://carrieelkin.com/

Released UK April 7th 2017

Malcolm Holcombe PRETTY LITTLE TROUBLES

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Malcolm Holcombe
PRETTY LITTLE TROUBLES
Gipsy Eyes Music.

Raw and Defiantly Authentic Country-Blues.

I can’t remember how long ago it was when I first ‘discovered’ Malcolm Holcombe; but I do remember it was a Jumping Hot Club upstairs in the Central Bar, Gateshead when the room was littered with a handful of regulars who hung on every single word and note that came from the stage.
I was so smitten with the singer-songwriter I actually borrowed £5 from the promoter to go towards me buying the album Malcolm had for sale.
To be kind to the man from Carolina he has a voice and dress sense that only a Mother…..or me could love; just ask Mrs. Magpie!
I digress; let’s get onto PRETTY LITTLE TROUBLES Malcolm’s 15th album.
Some rather funky bass-lines and timpani unusually open the first track Crippled Point O’View; but it doesn’t take long for that trademark rasp and some wheezing harmonica from Jelly Roll Johnson to filter from the office speakers and Malcolm offers a rye and rueful view on these ‘tired and troubled times.’ Not exactly a protest song as such; it’s well worth listening to and, unless you are a flag waving patriot you will sadly find yourself nodding in agreement to many of of his all too keen observations on the state of the world.
When you listen to songs like Rocky Ground and Damn Weeds it’s difficult to pigeon hole Malcolm Holcombe, as he’s certainly a Folk Singer, but this is Classic Hill Music which pre-dates Bluegrass and damn sure this guy has the Blues.
The title track Pretty Little Troubles is as sweet as Malcolm Holcombe gets; but peel away the layers and you will yet another sharp and darkly witty observation on the times we find ourselves in.
As a ‘Troubadour’ Malcolm isn’t afraid to delve into the past to give you a history lesson that needs to be considered by the likes of us but repeated to future generations; Good Ole Days is a prime case in point, but you can delve deep into his back catalogue for other razor sharp examples. Here he uses the phrase ‘Good Ole Days’ and a jaunty finger picked guitar lick to draw you in to a story of a coal miner who worked with no labour laws and had seven children, of which many died of diseases associated with poverty! I listened again to this song the day President Trump promised to revive coal mining in the USA as part of his ‘Make America Great’ strategy…….perhaps someone should hack his iPhone and make this song Putin’s ringtone.
While I’m on that subject the final song on the album We Struggle is the type of restrained fury that we normally associate with Bob Dylan’s first 3 or 4 albums; but is needed in 2017 more than ever. Listen to it on headphones and it will break your heart in two.
Malcolm’s songs are always intriguing, especially the ones based on his own experiences, such is the case with Bury, England. A tale of touring hundreds of miles from home and turning up in a small town in the North of England, but it could be Nowheresville Anywhere. The intimate detail in the lyrics will bring rye smiles from British fans, and musicians all over the world.
The Eyes of Josephine finds Malcolm rediscovering his Celtic Roots, on a romantic ballad that is a timelessly beautiful Folk ballad at its heart.
As a ‘fan boy’ I’ve particularly liked Malcolm’s recent releases as he’s found some producers who are sensitive to his own particular needs…..especially his voice; which has always been brittle and worn. For long parts of his concerts you find yourself leaning forward to hear him as he can sing in barely a gruff whisper.
Without too much studio witchcraft Darrell Scott brings out a wonderful warmth and depth to that larynx on Rocky Ground and the raw to the bone Yours No More but especially on my favourite song here; and one more than worthy of inclusion on any future Best Of album……The Sky Stood Still. For once I’m lost for words as to how to describe it…..hey; buy the album and tell me I’m wrong.
Please, if you’ve got this far at the very least find Malcolm Holcombe on one of those streaming sites and I’m 99% sure you will find yourself buying something of his; and this is a damn good place to start!

Released May 26th UK & Europe
Released April 7th USA & Canada

https://www.malcolmholcombe.com/