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Michelle Malone (from the album Fan Favorites Vol 1 Unplugged available on SBS Records) (By Lee Zimmerman)
After a career spent working the road for more than 30 years, Michelle Malone has good reason to know which of her songs resonate with her followers. Hence, Fan Favorites Vol 1 Unplugged lives up to its title by offering a well-plied compendium of sorts, all redone in stripped-down settings. Malone and guitarist Doug Kees are the only musicians making the music here, but the acoustic treatment doesn’t diminish the forthright frenzy first vested in much of this material. Her soul-infused vocals remain dynamic and distinctive, and on songs such as the blues and boogie-infused twosome “Tighten Up the Springs” and “Feather in a Hurricane” (the latter of which finds her emphatically insisting, ‘It doesn’t matter who wins the election because our hands are tied anyway’) and such assertive selections as “Blue Suede”, “When I Grow Up”, “Debris”, and “Love Yourself”, her drive and determination remain undeterred.
So too, even though she slows the tempo from time to time, courtesy of “Dimming Soul”, “Super Ball”, “Strength for Two”, and “Weed and Wine”, her resilient attitude remains intact. So too, her delivery comes across as both passionate and purposeful. She occasionally resorts to a raspy wail, further serving both her frenzy and finesse. The reflective nature of “Avalon” sums up her sentiments, courtesy of its condemnation of today’s steady stream of bad news and the admonition to do all in our power to get beyond that torrent of depression and disappointment. A frenzied yelp underscores the earnest entreaty.
Likewise, the whistled refrain of “Butter Biscuit” plays up the whimsy inherent in that particularly playful tune.
As a result, Michelle Malone is clearly on an upward roll, even as she takes the time to take stock of her earlier accomplishments. After her last album, 1977, an introspective set of songs released just last year, she’s obviously entitled to consider where she’s been and what she has to say. There’s reason why these tracks are considered Fan Favorites and yet, given her powers and her prowess, it’s likely there will be several more volumes yet to come.
(By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Michelle Malone from AMAZON
For more information, please visit the Michelle Malone website
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