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Michelle Malone


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Compared to most musical artists in the Americana genre, Michelle 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. Her new album, Stronger Than You Think, is her strongest effort yet. Malone’s unforced, soulful voice and slide guitar playing take the blues and turn them into supremely-hooky roots rock songs that will make you wanna trash a juke joint and hi-five yourself after crying in your beer!

Malone comes by her independence and eclecticism naturally. “I started singing in church when I was about 4,” says the Atlanta-born Malone, “And my mom, a single parent, supported the family by singing in clubs and bars, doing everything from the hits of the day to jazz and blues standards. So I grew up being exposed to all kinds of music.”

After being an Arista artist and making a record for them produced by Patti Smith guitarist, Lenny Kaye, Malone became a pioneer of the indie movement. She started her own record label, SBS Records, in 1992 and began making her way down an independent musician’s rocky road. She’s now fortified with experience, having already released 13 studio recordings, played 1000’s of shows around the globe, and had songs used in TV shows like True Blood and Dawson’s Creek. For the last year, she’s been a part of the touring band of Kristian Bush, singer for Country supergroup, SugarLand. In between, she’s duetted with Gregg Allman, been backed by keyboard legend, Chuck Leavell and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and played everywhere they allow music. In short, Malone has paid her dues.

Her new record, though, Stronger Than You Think, stands apart from these impressive accomplishments. It has to do with looking around at her friends and contemporaries these past few years and seeing the toll that life can take. Hard times often make for great art, and this new record by Malone is no exception. She made this unforgettable album for her friends, her fans and anyone else who’s struggling or suffering. That’s many of us, and we won’t soon forget this music.

“I didn’t plan for so many of the songs to be about people overcoming obstacles. It happened organically. Part of my inspiration had to do with several friends who have been fighting cancer and other illnesses. Then there are people whose parents are aging and dealing with Alzheimer’s, so the songs are for the caretakers, too. These songs are my attempt to inspire folks dealing with difficulties. I want to empower them to continue to put one foot in front of the other, to keep on keeping on through their obstacles, whatever they are. I want them to know that they’re stronger than they even know.”

God knows, musically, Malone did her job perfectly. Everyone who hears ‘Stronger’ will be delighted. Take the disc’s kickoff kickass tune, Stomping Ground, which Malone calls one of her “favorites.” It’s got an insistent rocking beat, courtesy of drummer and co-producer Gerry Hansen, the right amount of lonesome harmonica and a chorus that just won’t quit. Also, it’s so damn universal. The narrator returns to a place where she use to live, where wonderfully-illicit coming of age acts went down, and it’s changed, flattened, wrecked. Malone’s heart hangs heavy as she sings about a magical spot from adolescence that’s empty-except for memories, but the slamming beat and her defiant voice keep it from being anything but maudlin.

As a self-professed Keith Richards fan, it’s kinda kismet that another satisfying track, My Favorite T-shirt, graces this punchy record. The song, of course, isn’t any more about the T-shirt than Wild Horses is about being a cowboy. It’s an excuse for Malone to let loose with a first-rate rant about an emotionally abusive relationship. As honest as most Americana singers are veiled, this tune uses that T shirt to confess why she stayed. It’s so open and honest, it’ll put you in mind of Chrissie Hynde, another great female truth-teller. Musically, however, it’s all Malone.

This is the 3rd record that Malone has made with producer / drummer Gerry Hansen (Chuck Leavell, Shawn Mullins, Randall Bramblett), and their mind-melding is obvious in the groove. A few of Malone’s other high profile Atlanta friends who dropped by to lend their backing vocals are Amy Ray (Indigo Girls) on I Dont Want To Know, co-written with Malone, and Kristian Bush (Sugarland) on When I Grown Up, also co-written with Malone.

So before she starts touring, what are her final thoughts about her new record? “I write for myself first, because I need to believe in what I’m singing. I wouldn’t aim it at any demographic, even if I knew how. I just write what moves me. I believe if the songs resonate with me, they’ll connect with other folks and bring them joy and strength, as well.”

Mission accomplished.

Tired of all the prissy performers out there? Girls who might as well be twirling parasols and giggling shyly? Just give a listen to the new disc by singular songwriter, inveterate road warrior, Michelle Malone. Maybe you’re feeling a little tired, a little broken, like you can’t take another step. Hearing this soul sister from the South may be just what you need. Plus, she’s got something you’re probably dying for someone to tell you. You Are Stronger Than You Think. And you are.

Michael*#39;s Music Blog February 2014 (link)

Access Atlanta concert review January 2014 (link)

Atlanta Music Guide December 2013 (link)

Bay Reprter July 2013 (link)

Baltimore Out Loud June 2013 (link)

The Alternate Root June 2013 (link)

After Ellen.com May 2013 (link)

The Red & Black April 2013 (link)

Access Atlanta April 2013 (link)

Atlanta Music Guide April 2013 (link)

Go Upstate March 2013 (link)

AL.com February 2013 (link)

Georgia Music Mag February 2013 (link)

Atlanta Music Guide October 2012 (link)

Rustzine October 2012 (link)

Guitar World September 2012 (link)

AL.com (Bon Iver cites Michelle) September 2012 (link)

Guitar World September 2011 (link)

The Daily Times July 2011 (link)

Knoxville News March 2011 (link)

Twangville best of 2009 December 2009 (jpg image)

About.com November 2009 (link)

Citizen Times November 2009 (link)

Curve Magazine November 2009 (DPF)

Rock and Theology October 2009 (link)

Hippo Press October 2009 (PDF)

Examiner.com October 2009 (link)

PopMatters July 2009 (PDF)

Metromix Atlanta June 2009 (PDF)

Twangville March/April 2009 (PDF)

Atlanta Journal Constitution April 2009 (PDF)

Atlanta Music Guide April 2009 (PDF)

Blurt April 2009 (PDF)

Daily News (McKeesport PA) April 2009 (PDF)

Omaha Blues Society April 2009 (PDF)

Pacific Street Blues April 2009 (PDF)

Performing Songwriter March 2009 (PDF)

Philadelphia Gay News 7 April 2009 (PDF)

Providence Journal 9 April 2009 (PDF)

Advocate.com April 2009 (PDF)

Indy Week April 2009 (PDF)

Paste 3 April 2009 (PDF)

Billboard April 2009 (PDF)

DLN 6 April 2009 (PDF)

Edge April 2009 (PDF)

Metromix Greenville April 2009 (PDF)

NoDepression.com April 2009 (Video interview)

Sovo 27 March 2009 (PDF)

"introspective in spades, Malone's heavenly pipes are rich in nuance"
- Blurt Magazine

"on Acoustic Winter, Malone creates gorgeous, gentle, personal songs that showcase her pristine vocal qualities and depth"
- Atlanta Music Guide

"Equal parts badass guitar slinger and sweet songstress, with masterful lyrical introspection - sublime to raucous."
- Guitar World

"The kind of singer and songwriter who can jolt things into overdrive."
- New York Times

"raucous and jubilant - somewhere between Lucinda Williams and Shelby Lynne comes Malone alternating between soulful ballads and rowdy, riffy blasters."
- Rolling Stone

"*4 out of 5 Bunnies*... on this loose and blues-stoked new album, Malone churns up those Southern roots with the vigor of Lucinda Williams while embracing her inner Keith Richards."
- Playboy

"The soul of a bluesman, the heart of a folk singer, and the guts of a rock and roll star all wrapped up in one fiery bad ass”
- Nashville Rage

"From the bluesy growling on Chicken Lickin Boogie to the sweet crooning of Shine, Michelle Malone shows remarkable range on her new record. And Wasted On You is a breakout hit waiting to happen."
- Michael Dunaway, Paste Magazine

"Equal parts badass guitar slinger and sweet songstress, Michelle Malone artfully balances her penchant for ripping it through the roof with masterful lyrical introspection and vocals that range from sublime to raucous. Day 2 is the kind of album you can listen to over and over again…and I did!"
- Laura Whitmire, Guitar World

"When Michelle first called me about producing her new record, I didn't even have to think about it. For more than twenty years she's been one of my favorite singer/songwriters and guitar players. And one of my favorite people. I would be honored!"
- Shawn Mullin

“Malone’s blazing blend of slide and amped up country twang is equal parts ZZ Top and Willie Nelson, and her band fits on a huge stage at a European blues festival just as well as they do at a rundown honky tonk in Texas.”
- Guitar World

Michelle Malone¹s gritty, bluesy guitar playing, introspective and thoughtful lyrics and soulful vocals make her a superstar in every sense of the word.
- Mike Breen, Cincinnati City Beat

"Debris, Malone’s slide-guitar-punctuated collection of reckless youth, stalkers and one-night stands is raw Americana, a fist-in-the-face retort to the Stones’ Some Girls, 30 years on."
- The Hippo Press

"Debris" is simply an excellent piece of work.
- Metromix Atlanta

"'Debris' is an instant classic."
- Twangville

"this is an excellent rock n’ roll record in the finest sense! Malone has a sharp Southern rock flavor akin to the Black Crowes and Tom Petty. She plays a lyrically rich guitar style under the influence of Keith Richards; Her songwriting shows great texture and depth. Michelle Malone’s “overnight success” could easily become the surprise gig for the summer of ’09. yea, it's THAT good."
- Omaha Blues Society

"A proper American cocktail that'’s best drunk straight up."
- Billboard

Whether moanin' at midnight and howlin' at the delta moon, or serving up a steamy blend of Tom Pettyesque twang-pop and Creedence Clearwater choogle, Malone's the sexiest, most swaggering-est gal rocker on the goddam planet right now.
- Blurt Magazine

"'Debris' from her sharply etched 10th album of the same name. Think Bonnie Raitt bedding down with Keith Richards. OK, maybe you shouldn't."
- Philly.com

"Michelle Malone's badass pipes and guitar shine on new album."
- Metromix Greenville

"The first four songs on Moanin' Michelle Malone's new CD, Debris, are the four best blues songs you'll hear this year. It is, quite possibly, the best four-song combination ever put together in a blues album. If someone teaches a Modern Blues 101 class, that person should start with these four songs."
- Atlanta Music Guide

"Slinging a slide guitar that roars, Michelle Malone is a crackling live wire [with the] ability to crank out ballsy blues-rock barnburners and smooth, soulful roots pop with equal panache and passion."
- Indy Weekly

"Debris is like sing-along, foot-tapping, booty-shaking therapy."
- Southern Voice

"Michelle Malone is among the flashiest, most impressive slide guitar soloists working in contemporary blues, often fortifying her vocals with slashing lines, inventive twists and surprising backing."
- Nashville City Paper

"Malone bursts forth like she's got something to prove. She's mastered all the tools of the trade: hook-laden songwriting, a no-nonsense voice with powerful range, tough and tender guitar, and a memorable presentation. She's destined for greatness. A refreshing surprise of an album."
- Eric Thom, Blues Revue Magazine

"Malone's riveting wail and sizzling slide guitar blend sass and defiance with an authoritative presence exuding a spunk all her own."
- Performing Songwriter

"The kind of singer and songwriter who can jolt things into overdrive."
- New York Times

"Why Michelle Malone hasnt knocked the likes of Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt off of their roots-rock and blues pedestals blows the mind. Malone's authentic interpretation of good old Southern rock and hard-edge blues should have her rubbing shoulders with the Allman Brothers and Buddy Guys of the world. Sugarfoot and Stompin' Ground, are rousing and relentless toe-tapping beauties deserving of a boatload of attention."
- The Village Voice

"Sugarfoot is as raw, magnificent, dirty and low down as anything you'll ever want to hear in blues music - our blues-breaker CD for the week"
- Dan "Elwood" Akroyd, House of Blues Radio Hour

"Raucous and sinewy guitar leads - sensual, raspy vocals - Malone has become a master at mixing blues and Americana"
- Guitar Player

"4 out of 5 Bunnies... on this loose and blues-stoked new album, the rough-and-tumble Malone embraces her inner Keith Richards while churning up those Southern roots with the vigor of Lucinda Williams."
- Playboy Magazine

"A troubadour with grit and enough accessibility to warrant widespread acceptance."
- Billboard Magazine

"An exceptional voice capable of smoking langour and howling catharsis."
- The Washington Post

"Sugarfoot'll take you down to the crossroads and send you back dazed, disheveled and half-naked."
- Harp