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Malcolm Holcombe

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MALCOLM HOLCOMBE

On the North Carolina side of the Southern Appalachians, the land still retains its secrets.
It’s a place of paradoxes, where poverty is handed down from one hardscrabble generation to the next in towns passed over by the New South progress that gives a city like Asheville its bourgeois charm. It’s a resilient pocket of wilderness where a small band of Cherokee once disappeared into the misty hollers to wait out the white man’s ire, back in the deep woods where old growth timber blocks out the sunlight and compass needles sometimes spin crazily and the trappings of civilization give way to things beyond human understanding.
On the cusp of releasing his 13th studio album — “Come Hell or High Water,” out XXX on Singular Recordings — singer-songwriter Malcolm Holcombe is a both a part of and apart from those Blue Ridge hills, a Southern folk golem brought to life by the deeper mysteries that give these hills so much of their folklore.
His songs belong in the same Western North Carolina echelon of mysteries like the Brown Mountain Lights or the ghostly apparitions along Helen’s Bridge or the phantom choir of Roan Mountain — things that surpass conventional explanation but summon forth a combination of awe and primal longing, an ache to understand the great questions of the human condition. 
Malcolm may not have the answers to those questions, but his songs are drawn from the same waters that begin as a trickle in the deep woods: wild, untamed, filled with the whispers and roars of all the mysteries and wonders those hills contain. And like the region’s otherworldly manifestations, they come from a place that transcends easy understanding, even by their creator.
“I don’t know, man; people ask me that stuff, and I can’t really tell you where it comes from,” Holcombe says. “I’m not really good at pulling a Houdini and getting the pencil to levitate. Getting my pencil to levitate is impossible; it’s not in my realm of being. Like my friend Eddie from up here in Swannanoa says, ‘If you like to get corn, you got to get out the hoe.’”

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