That old R&B song with the lyric "Devil or Angel, what will she be?" always comes to mind when I think about the talented Michelle Malone. Being fortunate to have been a witness to her remarkable journey in the music business by accidentally being at the same show that Arista Records saw in 1989. MM was barely out of high school, yet she wowed Mr. Ears and Star maker himself, Clive Davis, who took a personal interest in what he thought would be his next major Diva.
Well, he got the temperament and the talent right but this classy lassie from Atlanta felt more akin to Georgia Rock Icons like the Allman Brothers and The Georgia Satellites, or Otis Redding and Blind Willie McTell, than she did to La Whitney etc.. Malone has the chops but this guitar "babe" just wanted to rock with her the boys in Drag the River.
The dream deal became a behind the music nightmare. MM put her boots on and just kept walking.
So, was this an angel or the devil in disguise at work?
Unlike the rumor about Robert Johnson, she did save her soul.
Back in Atlanta, she threw her arms around her most loyal friend, her Hamer Duotone Guitar which never left her side again. She felt at home throwing down with her Angel friends, the Indigo Girls- she actually became a "temp girl" when the they took to the road.
MM plays best when the boys accept her as a musician and not just that "chick" singer. Michelle Malone should have been right up there with those hippie, crunchy rootsy groups. But the boys' room was one stall short when it came to letting a "lady" - particularly a "lady" with the seductive licks and sultry looks of Michelle Malone - seize the stage.
Defiantly she simply flipped her hips, licked her lips and moved forward remaining ever faithful to her guitar and main squeeze, Jezebel, vowing once and for all to show the world just who really is the Chattahootchie Guitar Queen!
That is until Michelle's muse told her it was time to bring the Graham Parson's "thang" out in her music, and she took off for what seemed like 1001 nights of barnstorming the juke joints and beer halls of America. Her ax stayed loyal and her band disciplined. As Band De Soleil they recorded a darker version of heartbreak than the Grievous Angel would ever have dreamed of playing. Moanin' Malone, (a nickname that was given to her by blues guitarist Albert King upon hearing her sing) found herself walking down the roughneck road of Steve Earle and Marianne Faithful after the fall.
It took MM traveling the backwoods of the US to discover how the Angel and the devil mesh into one person in order to make one divinely sweaty sound.
MM' finally learnt home is where the heart is.
Her new record, Stompin' Ground (Daemon Records/SBS Records), creates the perfect platform for the acoustic angel to meet the wicked Salome. It's stripped down and cranked up like a chopped up hot rod in a NASCAR final heat, oozing passionate rocking beats at its juicy core. Along with her band, The Low Down Georgia Revue (Jonny Daly from Drag The River is back on guitar, while Lee Kennedy on bass and Linda Bolley on drums lay down the backbeat) Stompin' Ground was recorded in Atlanta at the Snack N Shack, a one room shot gun shack that is rumoured to have once been home to Atlanta bootleggers. MM opens the CD sliding her way around the bottleneck guitar and singing about returning to the south for solace when she gets down and out, and closes it singing, "Here comes your shadow chasing after you".
From beginning to end you get the feeling that after all her barnstorming struggles and boot-stomping victories, Malone has hit paydirt in the music and in herself.
Stompin' Ground finds MM at the peak of her talent - Patsy Cline meets The Georgia Satellites - part smouldering angel, part devil-may-care scorcher,
but all Moanin' Malone.
The Chattahootchie Guitar Queen has finally found her voice!
Hello Sheryl, Hello Chrissie, Hello Lucinda, your baby sister in Rock is all grown up -
Please make room on the main stage, MM is back for keeps!
Insite Mag Atlanta 8/2003
Michelle Malone has been around for years, writing, touring and putting out albums. Her folk-rock sound is powerful and literate, but she's never had much mainstream success. Which is a shame, because she's the equal of most folks in the Americana movement.
Stompin' Ground should change that. Backed by her band, the Low-Down Georgia Revue, Malone delivers a dense, swampy record reminiscent of Lucinda Williams's more energetic work.
Things start off with "Lafayette," which opens with an acoustic lope but quickly kicks in with slide guitar, a vintage John Bonham drum sound, and sexy lyrics like "If I had my way I'd keep your angel wings wrapped down around my thigh."
"2 Horns and 2 Wings" rolls at 80 mph like a trucker's anthem, telling the tale of a girl who pushes the boundaries of both virtue and sin. Throughout, Malone's earthy tracks get some ramshackle momentum going. Her band is inspired, laying down perfect beds for her fierce guitar solos. Even the ballads have crackle.
Over the last few years, Malone has really come into her own, but with Stompin' Ground she takes a giant stride in matching songwriting chops and lyrical sharpness with a band that's truly up to the task.
The Out Mag review 8/03
With her latest release-her ninth since 1992, this one on Amy Ray's indie label-Michelle Malone continues to stake her claim as a satisfying Southern-flavored singer-songwriter in the midst of a pop wasteland. Guitar-driven "Lafayette" and "Preacher's Daughter" tell of struggles in relationships and with women she's loved. Her smooth, steady voice is a strong match for her devil-may-care attitude, lending "down to the river" simple storytelling to everything from ballads to rockin' blues. Michael Westley
Swamp rock guitar chops stripped down and cranked up... smooth, steady voice is a strong match for her devil-may-care attitude, lending "down to the river" simple storytelling to everything from acoustic ballads to rockin' blues...Michelle lets if fly!
Check out the artist's website:
2. 2 Horns and 2 Wings
3. Moanin' Coat
5. Cypress Inn
6. Preacher's Daughter
7. Cry Me A River
8. Snack N Shack
11. Honeysuckle Lullaby