First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2005, Volume 12, #4
Written by John Metzger
On his latest effort Dear Life, Bill Mallonee forsakes his recent indie-pop experimentation and reverts to the country-tinged, roots-oriented sonic attributes of his former band Vigilantes of Love. Considering that the recording was funded by fans who purchased the album long before it was completed, this twist isnít terribly surprising. After all, itís only fair that his benefactors receive the product that they most desire to hear. What is shocking, however, is that Dear Life is actually the best thing Mallonee has created in a long, long time. Musically, none of his new songs stray from the typical line-up of influences that parade through these sorts of efforts. There are overt hints of Neil Young (After All This Dust Settles Down), Bruce Springsteen (Carol Merrill), and The Byrds (Ready and Red-Eye) situated next to odes to Uncle Tupelo (Where the Light Does Fall), Jackson Browne (Chameleon Me [Pin My Hope]), and the Sun Studios sounds of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison (Who Will You Love?). In combination, it all serves to support Malloneeís musings quite well, and if anything, peeling away the dense layers that surrounded his previous endeavor Perfumed Letter reveals that Mallonee has matured as a songwriter. As a result, his bittersweet reflections on love and loss perfectly capture the pain caused by lifeís stinging bruises and the healing power that hope can provide.
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box