First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10
Written by John Metzger
On her latest effort Sugarfoot, Michelle Malone continues to offer a stylistic jumble of material, and this time, she swerves from the gospel-bred intonations of Beyond the Mountain to the folk-pop of Down to the mainstream rock of Where Is the Love. As was the case with her previous endeavors, however, itís when she sinks deeply into the blues that her music packs its greatest punch. By using a series of repetitive, slide guitar licks to echo the creaking of a mattress, for example, she heightens the sexual aura that drips from Tighten Up the Springs, and in appropriating Robert Plantís fierce, devilish howls, she succeeds not only in laying waste to Miss Missíippi but also in settling into the backwater, acoustic refrains of Winter Muscadine.
Thereís little doubt that Malone revels in the freedom of being an independent artist, and she subsequently indulges her interests wherever they happen to lead. The problem, however, is that her self-reliance means that there also isnít anyone around to tell her when sheís traversing a path that isnít likely to bear fruit. Nowhere is this more apparent than on Where Is the Love, a song that fails miserably in both of its incarnations, and while Down might accomplish the task of breaking up the monotony of her hard-driving, blues-rock fare, its political message is seriously tempered by its lightweight, Sheryl Crow-derived arrangement. With both Sugarfoot and its predecessor Stompiní Ground, Malone has proven that she has the talent and the range to compete with what the major labels are offering, but whatís lacking is the focus that is necessary for turning a decent slate of songs into a riveting, cohesive album.
Of Further Interest...
Sugarfoot is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box