Michelle Malone

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Posted November 15, 2006 by Listen Up in Music

Sugarfoot is one of those c.d.’s that can be inserted in the space between the blues and rock without really adding anything new to the pile.

Michelle Malone spends a couple of hundred days a year on the road, sharing stages with the likes of ZZ Top, Joan Jett, the Indigo Girls, and Johnny Winter. She’s at her inconsistent best when she’s at her finger-lickin’ greasiest — a sound she creates with her bottleneck slide guitar — and just a little bit rowdy, such as on songs like “Tighten Up the Springs (On the Bed)” and “Soul Chicken.”

Lyrically, Malone tries a little too hard for the rock-blues sub-genre, claiming on the jangly “Where is the Love” that love is like “a stray, rebellious bird / Call it, and you’ll never hear a word,” and asking on the almost gospel-like “Beyond the Mountain,” “Where is the love you promised me, beyond the mountain, behind the sea, waiting for me?”

In the blues, poetry — even doggerel — is in the simplicity of everyday experience described in everyday terms, and in the near-wordless feelings embedded in the music. Malone, whom Playboy once described as a musician who “embraces her inner-Keith Richards” while also comparing her to Lucinda Williams, should take note. On Sugarfoot, her ninth full-length album, she doesn’t quite stack up to either Richards’ playing or Williams’ writing and recorded performances. Nothing’s wrong with what’s here. There’s just nothing particularly right, either.

 


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