This is a serious candidate for my top ten records of the year. Michelle Malone, former folkie, has formed a hell of a band (they’re billed as The Low-Down Georgia Revue on the cover, and that’s pretty much OTM) and gone Southern rock on us, and she’s better for it, and so are we.
It’s not just that she’s a great singer (whiskey has definitely been a factor, methinks); it’s not just that she’s a great slide and lead and acoustic guitar player (and mandolin and vibes and harmonica); it’s not even just that she’s written 10 great songs here (plus “True” which is ten years old and the snippet “Snack N Shack” which seems like a studio joke that was too good to give up). Okay, it’s all those things.
When she rocks, like in the opener “Lafayette,” Malone is convincing and passionate. When she stretches it out, like she does in the slowjam “Moanin’ Coat” and the poppy “Camera,” she’s got more fire in her voice than anyone else I can think of in this genre outside of Allison Moorer. (Huge compliment, by the way.) The only time she gets even a little run-of-the-mill is when she’s still being folky. But even then she’s ace, as “Preacher’s Daughter” will attest.
Whether singing about her wayward, untrustworthy, evil — yet still alluring — girlfriend on “2 Horns and 2 Wings” (haven’t we all been there, people? Or, if we haven’t, wouldn’t we all like to watch?) or how shitty the religious right is on “Flagpole,” Malone turns it out. And her band, featuring the awesome drummer-to-watch-in-the-future Linda Bolley, does her no harm and mostly sets her songs in settings that, for me, hit harder than Drive-By Truckers or any of the competition.
One record and she vaults into my favorites list. Nice accomplishment, and good for me, because I get to listen to this record. You should be so lucky.