A singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer whose music is informed by blues, roadhouse rock & roll and Georgia soul, Michelle Malone’s stunning and stirring latest album, “Slings and Arrows,” pushes her parameters even further. It’s upbeat, defiant, and jubilant, flush with the raw energy and emotion that’s always been a part of her signature sound all while nudging her deeper into some personal new territory she hasn’t explored before. Malone deals with issues that have been burned into her psyche and affected her deeply. These songs speak to desire and disappointment, optimism and awareness, all with a driving and fiery conviction.
“It wasn’t planned that way,” she insists, “but inevitably, that’s how the album evolved.”
She has had her share of success, courtesy of some 15 studio albums, her own independent SBS Records label, numerous top flight film and TV soundtracks, kudos from the critics and collaborations with a remarkable roster of amazing artists, among them, the late Gregg Allman, ZZ Top, Ellen DeGeneres and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
Compared to most musical artists in the Americana genre, Malone seems like a pair of distressed blue jeans amidst a sea of pantsuits. Unlike the surplus of self-professed rootsy rebels, one listen to this woman from Dixie and you know you’re hearing the real thing. Credit Malone with doing things her own way for the better part of the past three decades, and defying expectations in the process.
“The past year seemed to alternate between darkness and light,” Malone reflects. “It’s kind of been the arc of my life in general, but even more so over the past year. In a very real sense, this album is a microcosm of issues that I’ve rencountered, and in writing this record, it became a kind of therapy. It helped change my perspective, and I suspect that there are messages here that can offer affirmation to others as well.”
While it’s not a concept album in the strictest sense, “Slings and Arrows” does look at a myriad of scenarios from the perspective of the characters that populate these songs. It’s through their hardships that Malone draws parallels with situations she’s encountered in recent years with her friends and family. In that way, Malone offers both a connection and a catalyst for dealing with these universal difficulties.
Malone plays Jazzbones on Sept. 6, but get your tickets now while they last: www.jazzbones.com/event/1870965-michelle-malone-tacoma.