Malcolm Holcombe

Gamblin' House (Echo Mountain)

SXSW Platters

Malcolm Holcombe

Gamblin' House (Echo Mountain)

With the guttural causticity of an Appalachian bred Howlin' Wolf, "My Ol' Radio" and "Goodtimes" open Holcombe's sixth album moaning self-satisfaction like Austin's Scott H. Biram full up on chicken. "Goin' Downtown" and the title track grin with defiant self-destruction, the latter declaring, "I'm soakin' up the slaughter, I'm lyin' through my teeth, my calculated coffin, don't tell me what I need." Few songwriters can pen lines that provocative, much less bring them convincingly to life. And the Asheville, N.C.-based Holcombe just as easily encompasses the subtly beautiful (John Prine-esque "Baby Likes a Love Song") and devastatingly broken ("You Don't Come See Me Anymore"). Gamblin' House falters only in its production polish, which dilutes the singer's raw power. Still, cut along the same rough grain as Billy Joe Shaver and Guy Clark, Holcombe's no gamble. (Wednesday, March 12, Stephen F's Bar, 9pm.)

***.5

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