BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Malcolm Holcombe made it clear from early on he’s not the kind of guy you want to mess with. He takes no grief and suffers no fools. We don’t know that for a fact of course, but one listen to any of his previous albums and Pitiful Blues in particular makes that impression pretty clear. Judging by his ransacked vocals and hard-scramble sound, it’s obvious that Holcombe’s not about to soft-sell his intents. “Take what you can get/Some politician’s grinnin’/Don’t trust the government/I got a rifle in my hand,” he growls on “By the Boots,” and by God, it’s obvious he’s not joking. From the sweat-stained sentiments of “Savannah Blues” to the rootsy ramble of “Sign for a Sally,” Holcombe wears his convictions on his proverbial sleeve, laying down one gritty discourse after another with a rugged, irascible irony and intensity.
Frayed and well-worn, gruff and gritty to the max, these songs sound like they were plucked from the tangle of the swamp or yet another roadhouse refuge. Not that Holcombe is solely focused on agitated discourse, insolence or indulgence; final track “For the Love of a Child” makes it clear that apart from the tenacious turbulence, a certain amount of tenderness still resides within. More purposeful than pitiful, these ten songs find a weary renegade giving voice to a troubled soul.
DOWNLOAD: “For the Love of a Child,” “By the Boots,” “Savannah Blues”