Roscoe Holcomb, High Lonesome Sound, The

Ed Ward

By Ed Ward

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
We’re pretty sure the operative word here is “lonesome.”

Holcomb never recorded in the old days, but made up for it after his rediscovery during the folk revival. The title captures the content (and Holcomb's voice) perfectly, although the stark music and Holcomb's vocal delivery, cracked and jagged like aged hickory, may sound a little rough to contemporary ears. Holcomb was a virtuoso banjo picker, and knew and played a lot of very old styles, meaning that you're hearing echoes of the 19th century here. Holcomb performed semi-professionally in the '30s, and his repertoire here shows it, with his rendition of "House in New Orleans," better known as "House of the Rising Sun," being one bit of proof.