Malcolm Holcombe Biography

Malcolm Holcombe Performs At Rocksound In Barcelona
Redferns via Getty Images / Getty Images

Malcolm Holcombe's gravelly voice seems to come across a distance. It passes through lungs combusted by a thousand cigarettes, a soul that's been shattered by a string of tragedies.

Holcombe started out playing in the country band Redwing in his native North Carolina before becoming an underground sensation in Nashville in the early 1990s. Singing poetic lines in his customary growl, he gained converts in everyone from Lucinda Williams to a young Justin Townes Earle. In 1996, Holcombe signed with Geffen Records. Although he made a brilliant album for the label, Geffen chose not to release it. It wasn't until 1999 that the shelved work finally found release on Hip-O Records. It's name: A Hundred Lies.

In an effort to kick a drug habit, the mercurial singer moved back to North Carolina. After cleaning up his act, he began to record at a furious pace, beginning with I Never Heard You Knockin' in 2005. He ended the decade with four more records to his name. They included Gamblin' House and Not Forgotten (both in 2007), Wager in 2008, and For the Mission Baby in 2009.

Comparisons

Townes Van Zandt, Billy Joe Shaver, John Prine, Tom Waits

Trivia Facts

Starting out, Holcombe got a job flipping burgers at a Nashville bar. In the middle of his shift, he would typically mount the stage to sing. Still wearing his dirty apron, he'd astonish the audience with his impressionistic tunes -- before vacating the stage to mind the grill.

Recommended Albums

  • A Hundred Lies (Hip-O, 1999)
  • To Drink the Rain (Music Road Records, 2011)

Best Songs

  • "Dress in White"
  • "Justice in a Cradle"
  • "Who Carried You"
  • "Killing the Blues"
  • "One Leg at a Time"
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