Michelle Malone – 1977
Since 1986 Michelle Malone has provided engaging music beginning with the band Drag the River & continued to perform with mild suggestions in her tonality that this Americana-Roots singer from Atlanta, GA could easily be an effective jazz singer as well. Beyond the cocktail-jazz circuit.
Her “Knew My Name,” & “Daggers,” have a laid-back sensibility akin to Julie London. An approach that should be further explored by Ms. Malone. I like diversity in an artist – especially when you don’t expect it.
In her comfort zone, Ms. Malone is forever expanding & reaches into areas that keep her showcase always of interest. Fresh, grounded & despite successes, Michelle has always been a little under the mainstream radar. A similar fate met by the former Cindy Bullens, Carolyn Mas, Charlie Dore, Ronee Blakely, Jennifer Warnes & the late Judee Sill.
“River Song,” has innocence similar to the many songs that were traded back & forth between folk artists back in the 70s. Michelle’s aim is to recapture that atmosphere, groove that another era possessed. Where the singer-songwriter was in a rich position of creativity, persistent originality & channeling messages. Indigo Girl Amy Ray guests on vocals.
It’s a nostalgic sound that was maintained somewhat by vocalists like Mimi Farina (Joan Baez’s younger sister), Ruthann Friedman (who wrote the hit “Windy” & hung out with Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot & Joni Mitchell), Pam Polland & Trish Milliken (Rubber Rodeo) – out there with the more famous & helped shape wonderful tunes creatively.
Produced by Michelle (guitar/harmonica) the 10-cut CD 1977 (Drops April 22–SBS Records/BFD/The Orchard) features Doug Kees (guitar), Gerry Hansen (drums), Trish Land (percussion), Matt Stallard (bass), Neal Wauchope (keys), Eliot Bronson & Kevn Kinney (vocals).
Lyrically well-developed “Bodyguard,” shows the storytelling style of Malone. Her diversity’s on full display as it has been on many of her 19 LPs. “Dust Bowl Man,” has impressive performances & Michelle doesn’t stop at a one-man song – “Buck Knife Man,” is almost in Patti Smith territory. Tough without being forceful. Her voice is assertive & as she adds a bluesy feel & grit in her higher register she captures with precision what makes female vocals fluent with a lasting sense of personality.
So, even after years, Michelle Malone’s still worthy of being discovered or more wisely rediscovered. There’s a smoky scent in the autumn leaves that runs through many of these organic songs. Nothing’s contrived, no posturing & no novelty. The music’s hardy, delicate & well-expressed.
Michelle has a folk voice; a country heart & the essence of her charm lies in her musical honesty. Which she’s always had.
No need to drag the river…Michelle Malone is still solidly with both feet on the ground with 1977 & in 2022. Color image by Jolie Loren Photography. The CD is available @ https://michellemalone.com/home
Check out our interview of Michelle Malone’s song here: Video Premiere and Interview: Michelle Malone Not Who I Used To Be