Press Kit

BIO

MICHELLE MALONE’S ACOUSTIC WINTER

Michelle Malone’s Acoustic Winter is just what the doctor ordered for dark and cold days without being at all prescriptive. Instead of being that boisterous friend who insists you brighten up and ditch your winter blues – you know the kind that drags you out to vapid parties and when that fails, douses you in the glare of a sun lamp and puts on a loud Salsa station – Acoustic Winter is the friend who curls up beside you in the dark. Each song, from the soaring “Home” to the ethereal “Mirror Ball,” exudes warmth and wisdom while conveying an intimate knowledge of life’s deepest loves and losses. Like echoing harmonics, these central themes resonate throughout the record, providing Acoustic Winter with a mesmerizing continuity of mood – the rare kind achieved by records like Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks and Ray LaMontagne’s Till The Sun Turns Black. Acoustic Winter is Malone’s most stripped down recording to date and it reveals a songwriter and a musician at the top of her game. However, it is Acoustic Winter’s sheer vulnerability that stands out as truly breathtaking.

Malone started making music early, singing in her hometown church at age four and soon after that, started sneaking into her brother’s closet to borrow his coveted guitar. After many sibling battles waged, Michelle Malone finally got her own guitar and she hasn’t been without one since. Her guitar chops, her trademark voice, and her songwriting craft have won her critical acclaim and numerous awards over the years including: best album (Atlanta magazine), 2 time best acoustic guitarist (Creative Loafing, IAC), and 5 time female vocalist of the year (Creative Loafing), Best Blues Guitarist (IAC.com). Malone has played every state in the Union and toured all over the world but she calls Atlanta home.

“Equal parts badass guitar slinger and sweet songstress, with masterful lyrical introspection – sublime to raucous.
-GUITAR WORLD

“Raucous and jubilant – somewhere between Lucinda Williams and Shelby Lynne comes Malone alternating between soulful ballads and rowdy, riffy blasters.”
– ROLLING STONE

Malone describes Acoustic Winter as a record she just “had to get out of [her] system.” This past fall the songwriter found herself meditating on losses and heartaches, her own and those that loved ones had endured during the year. Autumn, a time when Michelle typically finds herself getting “down and dark,” was the perfect season for this introspective record to bloom. Initially, it began as a series of acoustic demos for a possible EP – just Michelle and band mate, Ben Holst, tinkering around at Southern Tracks, one of Atlanta’s most storied and historic studios. When Michelle tracked the vocals and guitars on those first few tracks she had no idea they were going to be the final ones released on a record. Hearing some piano parts, she hunted and pecked around until they sounded right – figuring she would get a real pianist to re-record them later. When that opportunity finally came, Michelle decided mostly in favor of her original parts. She realized that their simplicity complemented the songs and that anything else would offset the stark beauty of her novice playing. Producer Gerry Hansen worked with Michelle to craft the sparse and delicate production that perfectly supports the songs rather than overpowering them. It sounds like Michelle’s playing her 1966 Gibson J45 right across from you, the sound as warm and resonant as in a living room performance. Her soulful voice is at turns ringing and hushed, as if this intimate performance were just for you.

Acoustic Winter features Michelle’s first instrumental track, “A Walk in The Woods,” an intricate guitar piece with classical and folk elements. It pays homage to acoustic guitar greats like Bert Jansch and Lindsey Buckingham all the while still sounding distinctly original. Michelle’s Taylor 12 String, a gift from a fan, is also featured prominently on Acoustic Winter. Michelle says that whenever she plays it, she’s reminded of the kindness of people, of how good we can be to each other, and that she pours this awareness into the music. In other words, she plays from the heart. She also plays like a pro, achieving a sound as clean as Jimmy Page on “Over the Hills and Far Away” and David Gilmore on “Wish You Were Here.” Acoustic Winter is a treat for guitar aficionados.

Acoustic Winter is set for release on February 4th, right in the middle of what is often the coldest stretch of winter. This is an appropriate release date for an album that epitomizes the best things about our most difficult seasons. They are a time for drawing in what we hold most dear and letting go of everything else. This album provides the soundtrack for such times and offers the listener companionship in and of itself.


Read Full Bio HERE »

IN A NUTSHELL

Atlanta native Michelle Malone is “equal parts badass guitar slinger and sweet songstress” (Guitar World). Her mastery of guitar, along with her trademark voice and songwriting skills,have earned her 3x Best Female vocalist, Best Acoustic Guitarist, Album of the year, and 2 grammy ballot appearances (Best Contemporary Blues 2006, Best Americana 2009). Her songs have appeared in film and TV, and have been recorded by Indigo Girls, Antigone Rising and Vistos Bosses.Malone is currently on tour in support of her most recent release, Day 2 (SBS Records)produced by fellow Atlantan and Grammy nominee Shawn Mullins. Day 2 is currently climbing the Americana radio charts and receiving critical success. Malone’s shows are “raucous and jubilant” (Rolling Stone). She is “the kind of singer and songwriter who can jolt things into overdrive”(New York Times). Fun facts – Malone appeared on the Grateful Dead tribute album Deadicated  (Arista Records,1991), she was featured in a Georgia Tourism TV commercial with Elton John (1994), and the Collectible card game Magic: The Gathering was named in part for her song The Gathering (1992)!

“Equal parts badass guitar slinger and sweet songstress, Malone artfully balances her penchant for ripping through the roof 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

Michelle Malone delivers the fierce spirit that gets you through the darkest stretches of night, pulling you up out of bed into dawn’s first pulsing glow. Seated at a vivid green kitchen table, black coffee steaming in your mug, Malone plays for you on a beat up acoustic guitar, her voice ringing clear and rich over the mellowed strings. You know you’ve come home and you know this time, you never want to leave.

The songs on Malone’s 11th studio album, Day 2, were written at her own green kitchen table, coffee mug in hand, every morning for nearly a year. She even wrote them on an old Alvarez acoustic guitar that never gets played out on gigs, that never even leaves the house. The intimacy of this writing ritual provided the setting for Malone to venture into a songwriter’s most vulnerable territory, the shadowy recesses of envy, regrets, and straight up admissions of failure. Now here’s Malone’s hat trick, in realizing “it’s too damn bad I can’t be anyone but myself,” she redeems every false move, every false start, every horrible, no good very bad day. Even better, she makes it sound like the best wild night out you’ve ever had and then pushes it further, breaking right on through into Day 2.

“When there’s nothing left to hold on to, got to break down to break through,” she croons in “Day 2,” the album’s title track. Day 2, the record, is the soundtrack of a woman’s heart finally cracking open, open so wide that any light hidden by the sutures of past heartbreaks finally shines through and illuminates the present. Grammy Nominee Shawn Mullins, producer of Day 2 and long time friend of Malone, struck the perfect balance of grit and gossamer, making the record sound simultaneously raucous and ethereal.

Shawn took note of Malone’s connection to Day 2’s material right away saying, “One of the first things I noticed about Michelle in the studio, is how deep she goes into ‘the zone,’ as some folks call it…Most good guitar players, even, find it uncomfortable and sometimes take a while before they find their groove, so to speak. But with Michelle, you just sit back, open your ears, and hold on!”

Malone’s fluency of expression and her finely honed musicianship are something of a family legacy. Her mother, Karyn Malone, was a professional singer in Atlanta and when she went on tour in the summers, Malone and her brother would come along for the ride. Malone remembers splashing in the pool and drinking Shirley Temples bar side while her mother killed it in the lounge, singing the hits, night after night. Malone’s own mother numbers among her most compelling musical influences right along Bonnie Raitt, Linda Rondstadt, Mavis Staples and Billie Holliday.

Malone started early, singing in her hometown church at age four and soon after that, started sneaking into her brother’s closet to borrow his contraband guitar. After much blood shed and sibling battles waged, Michelle Malone finally got her own guitar and she hasn’t been without one since. Her mastery of the guitar, her trademark voice, and her songwriting craft have won her critical acclaim and numerous awards over the years including: best album (Atlanta magazine), 2 time best acoustic guitarist (Creative Loafing, IAC), and 5 time female vocalist of the year (Creative Loafing), Best Blues Guitarist (IAC.com).

Malone has played every state in the Union and toured all over the world but for the past few years she’s called a tiny town in rural Alabama home. Living in a place reminiscent of Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, where neighbors literally showed up on her doorstep with freshly baked pies, Malone spent her down time from touring on her porch swing watching the world go by. This quiet place and slowed down pace allowed her the breathing room to write her most exposed and compelling songs to date.
Day 2 is an eclectic roots record with its feet firmly planted in the Southern Americana and blues traditions, and its head in the lyrical sphere of luminaries like Patti Smith, Nashville era Bob Dylan, and Lucinda Williams. Day 2 was crafted with the guidance of producer Shawn Mullins and the support of an exceptional crew of musicians including Coproducer, Enginner and drummer Gerry Hansen (Shawn Mullins, Chuck Leavell, Randall Bramblett), Keyboardist Chuck Leavell (The Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, John Mayer), Keyboardist Randall Bramblett (Greg Allman, Steve Winwood, Widespread Panic), Bassist Tom Ryan (Shawn Mullins, Randall Bramblett), Bassist Phil Skipper (Tinsley Ellis, Drag the River, Delta Moon), and Marty Kearns on B3 (Shawn Mullins, Delta Moon, Band De Soleil). Day 2 will be released on October 5th to coincide with CD Release barnburners, BBQ’s, and top-notch luaus.

 

20+ YEARS IN A NUTSHELL

Malone was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, by her mother and grandmother, both professional singers. She first began performing at age four in a church choir, and later learned to play saxophone, guitar, and drums, which she played in her first band at age twelve.

As an teenager, Malone began to write songs. While studying voice at Agnes Scott College, she began performing professionally in and around Atlanta. She left school upon receiving a recording contract from Clive Davis at Arista Records, for whom she recorded the album Relentless with her band Drag the River, produced by Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith Group. She would later sign with Walter Yetnikoff’s label Velvel Records. In 1999, Malone returned to her independent roots and her own label, SBS Records, originally established in 1987 as Aluminum Jane Records and later renamed in 1992. She continues to write, record and tour furiously and passionately.

Malone has won numerous awards including Best Female Vocalist and Best Acoustic Guitarist (Creative Loafing), Album of the Year (Atlanta Magazine), Americana Album of the year (Independent Acoustic Project Award). Her albums Sugar Foot and Debris, released on SBS Records, were both on the Grammy Award ballot for best Contemporary Blues and Best Americana Albums respectively. Her songs have appeared in the films Bam Bam and Celeste, All Over Me, Shotgun Jesus and television programs True Blood, Dawson’s Creek, Felicity, Brooklyn South, and have been recorded by Indigo Girls (for which she received both gold and platinum records), Antigone Rising, Vistoso Bosses, and Hannah Thomas. Malone appeared with The Harshed Mellows (featuring Dan Baird of the Georgia Satellites, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, and Stan Lynch of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, producer Brendan O’Brien, and session drummer Mauro Magellen) on a recording of the song U.S. Blues for the Grateful Dead tribute album Deadicated (Arista Records, 1991). She was also featured in a Georgia Tourism TV commercial with Elton John in the 1994. The Collectible card game Magic: The Gathering was named in part after Malone’s song The Gathering (Redemption Dream 1994/Daemon Records/HiFi Records). In 2010 Malone took part in a virtual concert performing to a screen displaying avatars, as part of Michael Nesmith’s Video Ranch 3D project.

Malone has collaborated in the studio and on stage with such artists as John Mayer, SugarLand members Jennifer Nettles, Kristen Hall, and Kristian Bush, Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins, Kevn Kinney, Drivin’ N Cryin’, Little Feat, Albert King, Charlie Musselwhite, Johnny Winter, Lurrie Bell, Lonnie Brooks, ZZ Top, Robert Cray, Keb Mo, Tinsley Ellis, Rory Block, Marcia Ball, Chris Whitley, Steve Earle, K.T. Tunstall, Shawn Colvin, Jackson Browne, James Taylor and Joan Osborne, as well as Ellen DeGeneres.

Michelle Malone has been called “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)
She can make the biggest arena seem cozy as a campfire and an intimate venue feel like the center of the universe. Her live show is not to be missed.
****************

PRESS QUOTES

Malone is “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)

“Michelle Malone has the soul of a bluesman, the heart of a folk singer, and the guts of a rock and roller all wrapped up in one fiery bad ass” -NASHVILLE RAGE

“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 has become a master at mixing blues and Americana” (Guitar Player Magazine)


Read MORE PRESS HERE »

“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)

”A proper American cocktail best drunk straight up.” (Billboard)

“From bluesy growling to sweet crooning, Malone shows remarkable range on her new record. A breakout hit waiting to happen.” (PASTE MAGAZINE)

“Equal parts badass guitar slinger and sweet songstress, Malone artfully balances her penchant for ripping through the roof with masterful lyrical introspection – sublime to raucous.” (GUITAR WORLD)

 

“Michelle Malone is my #1 concert of 2011. She was a mesmerizing mixture of raging guitar, wailing vocals, and sexual current. It’s one of the best performances I’ve seen in my life.” (Chicagoconcertgoers.com)

“Why Michelle Malone hasnt knocked the likes of Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt off of their roots-rock and blues pedestals blows the mind. Maloneʼs 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. Rousing and relentless toe-tapping beauties deserving of a boatload of attention.” (The Village Voice)

“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)

“Whether moanin’ at midnight or howlin’ at the delta moon, Malone’s the sexiest, most swaggering-est gal rocker on the WHOLE damn planet right now. “ (Blurt Magazine)

“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’s riveting wail and sizzling slide guitar blend sass and defiance with an authoritative presence exuding a spunk all her own.” (PERFORMING SONGWRITER)

“Michelle Malone may have the best voice you’ve ever heard.” (Paste Magazine)

“She’s mastered all the tools of the trade and destined for greatness. A refreshing surprise of an album.” (Blues Revue Magazine)

Malone has become a master at mixing blues and Americana” (Guitar Player Magazine)

“Michelle Malone is as well-rounded as she is supremely talented.” (Hittin’ The Note)

“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)

“Malone’s riveting wail and sizzling slide guitar blend sass and defiance with an authoritative presence exuding a spunk all her own.” (Performing Songwriter)

“Michelle Malone’s badass pipes and guitar shine on new album.” (Metromix Greenville)

“Slinging a slide guitar that roars, Michelle Malone is a crackling live wire.” (Indy Weekly)

“Debris is like sing-along, foot-tapping, booty-shaking therapy.” (Southern Voice)

“Her lyrics ripple with Dylanish imagery and a fierce will to survive.”(MADEMOISELLE)

 

2009 DEBRIS BIO

Armed with a bottleneck slide, harmonica, and her signature soul-filled vocals, Michelle Malone was born in the Deep South and grew up listening to her mother sing in the church choir every Sunday. When it came time to craft her own sound, she took those religious roots, and blended in enough rock, folk, and country-blues to satisfy. The result is, Debris, a high-spirited stripped down blend of rootsy acoustic slide, gritty electric blues and explosive vocals that harkens back to the lost recordings of Bonnie Raitt, Lucinda Williams and The Rolling Stones.

Debris, Michelle’s 10th release, is easily her most revealing and emotional recordings to date. Malone found herself tackling some serious subject matter while at the same time making that spirited soul-shaking music that she loves. She says, “I have to play these songs every night, so I need them to be fun – I want to have a good time, too.” If one line could capture the sentiment of Debris it would be, “Don’t you think it’s time to let your childhood go?” Michelle expounds, “Debris is basically a breakup record about a relationship that had me in a state of arrested development for over a decade. I wrote about the anger, the heartbreak, the humor, and the relief I finally found in the end.”

Helping her capture the mood is producer Nick Di Dia (Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Train, Matthew Sweet). Says Malone, “Nick is brilliant, and we found that we work very well together. He was able to translate the live grit of “Feather In A Hurricane” and “Undertow” and in the next breath illustrate his sensitivity and finesse on “14th Street and Mars” and “Debris”. He let the songs take us where they wanted to go. Joining Malone in the studio were long time friend and heavy hitter Peter Stroud on guitar (Sheryl Crow), Phil Skipper on bass (Tinsley Ellis, Drag the River), Tony Reyes on keys (Dallas Austin, Gwen Stefani), and Dave Anthony on drums (Ike, Butch Walker).

The names of Michelle Malone’s ten albums serve as an autobiography; New Experience, Relentless, For You Not Them, Redemption Dream, Beneath the Devil Moon, Home Grown, Hello Out There, Stompin’ Ground, and last year’s critically acclaimed Sugarfoot. Over the course of her 20 year career, Malone has appeared on countless “best of” lists and has been the recipient of such awards as Best Female Vocalist (five times) and Best Acoustic Guitarist (three times) Creative Loafing, Studio Album of the Year (Atlanta Magazine), and Live Album of the year. Sugarfoot was voted best Americana record of 2006 by Indie Acoustic Project. Her albums Sugar Foot and Debris, released on SBS Records, were both on the Grammy Award ballot for best Contemporary Blues and Best Americana Albums respectively. Her songs have appeared in the films Bam Bam and Celeste, All Over Me, Shotgun Jesus and television programs True Blood, Dawson’s Creek, Felicity, Brooklyn South, have been recorded by Indigo Girls (for which Malone received both gold and platinum records), Antigone Rising, Hannah Thomas, and Vistoso Bosses. Here are a few little known facts about Michelle Malone: Malone has also been featured in a Georgia Tourism TV commercial with Elton John. The Collectible card game Magic: The Gathering was named in part after her song The Gathering (copyright 1988, Sony Music/Famous Music/Cold Cocked Music).

Michelle has never done anything nice and easy. She bit the major label lure (signed by both Clive Davis and Walter Yetnikoff) and despite promises broken, indulgences and expected excess, Michelle has continued her musical journey into forays of introspective, energetic and award-winning Americana, country blues and rock. This wealth of material has enabled Malone to tour and record for over 20 years, averaging over 150 days a year on the road and making fans all over the world.

The Michelle Malone Banned (Phil Skipper on Bass, Jon Radford on drums, Tim Tucker on Keys and vocals, Trish Land on vocals and Tamborine) is currently touring the USA and abroad in search of the perfect cup of coffee.

Michelle’s live show is not to be missed—she can make the biggest venues seem as cozy as a campfire, and an intimate venue feel like the center of the universe. Michelle Malone has collaborated on stage and/or in the studio with such artists as with blues legends Albert King, Charlie Musselwhite, Johnny Winter, Little Feat, Robert Cray, Keb Mo, Sonny Landreth, Marsha Ball, Lonnie Brooks and Chris Whitley, as well as Indigo Girls, John Mayer, SugarLand, Shawn Mullins, Steve Earle, K.T. Tunstall, Shawn Colvin, Jackson Browne and Joan Osborne, to name a few.

 

2003 STOMPIN GROUND BIO

Michelle Malone – Stompin’ at the Gates of Eden

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. Bars 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 Williw McTell, than she did to La Whitney etc…Malone has the chops, but this guitar “bab” just wanted to rock with her 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 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 that seemed like 1001 nights of brainstorming 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 that 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 and the Snack N Shack, a one room shot gun shack that is rumored 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 you 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 smoldering angel, part devil-may-care scorcher, but all Moanin’ Malone.

The Chattahootchie Guitar Queen has finally found her voice!


ELECTRONIC PRESS KIT

PREACHER’S DAUGHTER (Live)


DAY 2 Interview EPK 2013


Marlboro Man – Michelle Malone 2013

DEBRIS with No Depression Video


Feather In A Hurricane


Sugarfoot EPK


Miss Miss’ippi (Fitzgerald’s, Chicago)


PRESS QUOTES

Malone is “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)
“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 whole damn planet right now. ” (Blurt Magazine)



Read More Quotes

Malone is “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)
“Her lyrics ripple with Dylanish imagery and a fierce will to survive.” (Mademoiselle)
“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)
”A proper American cocktail best drunk straight up.” (Billboard)
“Why Michelle Malone hasnt knocked the likes of Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt off of their roots-rock and blues pedestals blows the mind. Maloneʼs 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 Stompinʼ Ground, are rousing and relentless toe-tapping beauties deserving of a boatload of attention.” (The Village Voice)
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)
”A proper American cocktail that’s best drunk straight up.” (Billboard)
“Whether moanin’ at midnight or howlin’ at the delta moon, Malone’s the sexiest, most swaggering-est gal rocker on the WHOLE damn planet right now. “ (Blurt Magazine)
“Michelle Malone may have the best voice you’ve ever heard.” (Paste Magazine)
“She’s mastered all the tools of the trade and destined for greatness. A refreshing surprise of an album.” (Blues Revue Magazine)
Malone has become a master at mixing blues and Americana” (Guitar Player Magazine)
“Michelle Malone is as well-rounded as she is supremely talented.” (Hittin’ The Note)
“She has 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)
“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)
“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’s riveting wail and sizzling slide guitar blend sass and defiance with an authoritative presence exuding a spunk all her own.” (Performing Songwriter)
“Michelle Malone’s badass pipes and guitar shine on new album.” (Metromix Greenville)
“Slinging a slide guitar that roars, Michelle Malone is a crackling live wire.” (Indy Weekly)
“Debris is like sing-along, foot-tapping, booty-shaking therapy.” (Southern Voice)
“Michelle Malone: How did someone this good stay under the radar for so long? That’s what comes to mind while listening to Debris, Malone’s slide-guitar-punctuated collection of reckless youth, stalkers and one-night stands. It’s raw Americana, a fist-in-the-face retort to the Stones’ Some Girls, 30 years on.”

-The Hippo

PERFORMING SONGWRITER says

Malone’s riveting wail and sizzling slide guitar blend sass and defiance with an authoritative presence exuding a spunk all her own.

BLUES REVUE MAGAZINE says

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.

Fred Mills, BLURT MAGAZINE says

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.


ATLANTA MUSIC GUIDE says

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. If you like the blues at all, you owe it to yourself to own this CD. Anytime you feel depressed abou t the decline of good music, put it on. These blues are guaranteed to bring you sheer joy


Eric Thom, BLUES REVUE MAGAZINE says

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.


PERFORMING SONGWRITER says

Malone’s riveting wail and sizzling slide guitar blend sass and defiance with an authoritative presence exuding a spunk all her own.


SOUTHERN VOICE says

Malone has virtually perfected a style that is equal parts blues, rock, kick-ass attitude and sometimes startling vulnerability. Debris is like sing-along, foot-tapping, booty-shaking therapy.

“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

“Malone’s riveting wail and sizzling slide guitar blend sass and defiance with an authoritative presence exuding a spunk all her own.”

-PERFORMING SONGWRITER

“Michelle Malone’s badass pipes and guitar shine on new album.”

-METROMIX GREENVILLE

“Slinging a slide guitar that roars, Michelle Malone is a crackling live wire.”

-INDY WEEKLY

“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
“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 amemorable presentation. She’s destined for greatness. A refreshing surprise of an album.” -BLUES REVUE
“Michelle Malone rocks!”

-DAILY LOCAL NEWS

“Debris is like sing-along, foot-tapping, booty-shaking therapy.”

-SOUTHERN VOICE


The Daily Local Newsays

Michelle Malone rocks!



INTERVIEWS

After Ellen Interview May 6, 2013

Michelle Malone defies easy description. Wild-haired Rock God, political singer/songwriter, passionate performer with roots in church music–no single characterization tells the whole story.

Over the course of Malone’s decades-spanning career, she’s collaborated with artists like Jackson Brown and Steve Earle, released more than a dozen records and gone indie when it still took guts. She spoke with AfterEllen.com about the futility of labels, her new album Day 2 and identifying as a “human on the planet.”

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Michelle Malone On The Futility of Labels and “Day 2″

From After Ellen May 6, 2013

By Sarah Terez Rosenblum

AfterEllen.com: When did you realize you wanted to become a musician?

Michelle Malone: I grew up in a musical family. My mother’s a professional singer and my grandmother sang in theater and church so it was a natural progression for me. It was nurtured.

AE: Sometimes you hear about artists who don’t want their kids on the same path, but it sounds like that wasn’t the case for your parents.
MM: It was almost the opposite. When I got accepted to college and even once I started attending, my mother wasn’t really excited about it. They wanted me to play music because they knew it was my passion.

AE: I’m not sure how useful classifications are, aside from marketing purposes, but I’ve heard your music classified as Americana. Does that label resonate for you?
MM: That’s been something I’ve always dealt with: classifying what I do. From the time I began, my work was difficult to classify. Not only do I not stay within any genre’s boundaries, I just draw outside the lines. When you do that, frankly, people don’t know what to do with you. When you say it’s a marketing tool, you’re absolutely right.

When I was growing up, everything was rock and roll if it wasn’t anything else. They called Crosby Stills and Nash rock and roll, as well as James Taylor and Led Zeppelin. They all fell under this huge umbrella. As time progressed, dividing into genres seemed advantageous for marketing purposes. So it’s been difficult for people to market me. I’m a strong singer and a bluesy slide guitarist and my music is rooted in Southern styles and idioms but it’s not country, it’s not strictly blues. I believe it has more in common with old school rock and roll but to me it’s all the same–it’s music. And I love all kinds of music. I listen to everything, from rock to opera to jazz to blues to classical. If you’re going to stay in the lines, it’s just boring. I don’t wear the same clothes every day and I don’t eat the same food and I don’t play the same music every day.

AE: How has your writing process changed over time?
MM: That’s a good question. I think I have more awareness now when I write. Though I don’t always know what I’m writing about ’til I’m into the process–often I just pick up my guitar and start playing and singing whatever comes to mind and it could be gibberish and then slowly it evolves. I just put words together that feel or sound good and the meaning comes later as the song takes shape. I always write with guitar in hand. I write lyrics and music simultaneously. I usually have to be in solitude to do it. This last record, Day 2, I got up every morning and got a pot of coffee and my guitar and sat down at my kitchen table and just made myself write until I had something, anything. I did that most every day for several months until I had a body of work I could choose from when I went into the studio.

AE: Is there one specific song you’ve written that you feel you learned a lot from writing?
MM: Absolutely. The crux of this record and the first song I wrote for it was “Marlboro Man,” and it’s one of the most guttural, heartfelt songs I’ve ever written. It’s painfully honest, about my relationship with my dad and how he’s no longer with us and the impact that had on me and our lack of relationship. I was able to dig deep and lay it all out there in very plain, transparent terms. That type of writing has always kind of scared me. I didn’t really want to be that honest with my work. It felt like I was airing out my dirty laundry. I didn’t know if other people would want to hear it and I certainly didn’t know that I wanted to sing those songs. It’s still a difficult song to sing but I’m more able to write from that place now if I need to because of that song and that breakthrough.

AE: Writing, do you ever touch on really personal territory and then feel reluctant to go forward with a song?
MM: As a writer you know that you pick words that resonate with you and you try to write like you speak so it feels real. I try to write that way as well, so I guess I’m just careful of the words I choose and how I present things and I don’t want to write anything that doesn’t feel like I can sing it. And if it’s a good song, I’ll leave it that way and I’ll record it but some nights I don’t feel like singing that song because it rips my heart out or I just don’t feel it that night. So I don’t have to sing all these songs every night. And there are also songs I’ve recorded over the years that I never sing live for one reason or another. But like “Marlborough Man,” I don’t sing that song at every show largely because it’s just kind of exhausting emotionally.

AE Back to labels, how do you think being a lesbian has affected your career?
MM: First and foremost in my brain and in my life and in my career, I just think of myself as a human on the planet. I don’t really operate from a place where I think of myself first as a lesbian or even as woman. I get asked the question, “has being a woman in the music industry affected your career” as well. I’m sure it has. I’m sure being a gay woman has affected my career in some way, shape or form, but I don’t know how. And I don’t typically tend to sing from a specifically gay perspective because I want my music to appeal to everyone. It’s nothing I’m ashamed of and I’ve been out since high school but it doesn’t feel like that big a deal. But I grew up in Atlanta and maybe it’s more accepted here. Maybe I didn’t have as difficult a time as someone growing up in the midwest in a small town might. In general, it is difficult to be a woman in the world and then add on top of that a gay woman, and that does have some hurdles. Whether they’re actually out there in the physical world or they’re mental hurdles or to do with family approval–all of that can affect you in ways that society at large or the music industry in general may not cause. Maybe it’s self-inflicted.

AE: Over your career’s span you’ve obviously been both single and coupled. How do romantic relationships affect you as a writer? Do you find you have access to more material when relationships are in flux?
MM: It doesn’t affect my ability to write, it just effects the types of songs I write. My writing is really a commentary on my life, so if I’m happy, I’m going to write songs about that. If I’m in love, I’m going to write songs about that. If I’m with someone I can’t stand and I really need to break up with them, I’m going to write songs about that and then when I break up with them I’m going to write a whole record about it called Debris. I take lemons and I make songs about lemonade, I guess.

AE: How has being an independent artist changed since you left Arista?
MM: In the late nineties when I went back to being independent, the whole story about the release of my next record was that I was independent–it got a lot of press and attention. Now you can go make a record in your bedroom and put it out and it’s no big deal. Every person on your block has probably put out a record. It flooded the market with a lot of music that maybe we could live without, but we also get to hear music that maybe we never otherwise would have known existed that has really enriched our lives.

AE: You’re headed out on tour this summer to promote your album. Do you enjoy touring?
MM: I enjoy it when I don’t do as much of it. I used to tour about 200 days a year and I began to tour less and less so I could focus on my family and my home life. Touring just feels disconnected from the rest of the world. Even though you’re getting out there and meeting new people, you’re not really grounded, or at least I wasn’t. So it’s better for me when I tour a little bit less, maybe 100 days a year. Then I get the best of both worlds. I get to have a nice home life which I felt like I’d missed out on being gone for so many years. So I have a nice balance now.

AE: What songs are you most proud of on the new album?
MM: As a songwriter, I believe this is my best record to date. I think my writing has really grown, not only because I’m more able to open up now when I write, but because I have more clarity. I’ve had glimpses of clarity in the past but I feel more in touch with it now. Does that make sense? I may not be able to articulate it, but I have it. So I’m proud of the love song, “Shine.” I wrote that for my wife as an anniversary gift and I feel like it’s a special song. I just channeled it. I didn’t have that much to do with it. It just flowed through me and I feel very fortunate. And I love the title track, “Day 2.”

AE: How do you pick a title track?
MM: Generally, you record your songs and you get a vibe about the record and you choose a title based on that. In this case, the song “Day 2” has meaning in and of itself, but as an album title it felt like, okay, this is a new chapter in my writing and recording. A new era for me; I’m turning the page. It just kind of felt right.

Boston Edge Interview April 6, 2009

“I hope you don’t mind, but I’m eating Rice Krispies,” says Michelle Malone, still enjoying her morning breakfast when I call her Atlanta, Georgia, home for a phone chat. She might have her mouth full of cereal, but there’s no mistaking the steady, languid drawl that has helped Malone carve a comfortable niche in American blues music, and most especially as one of the genre’s few out female singer-songwriters

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Michelle Malone On Love and Loss

from the Boston Edge Monday Apr 6, 2009
By Scott Kearnan

“I hope you don’t mind, but I’m eating Rice Krispies,” says Michelle Malone, still enjoying her morning breakfast when I call her Atlanta, Georgia, home for a phone chat. She might have her mouth full of cereal, but there’s no mistaking the steady, languid drawl that has helped Malone carve a comfortable niche in American blues music, and most especially as one of the genre’s few out female singer-songwriters.

Her 10th studio album might be named Debris, but Michelle Malone has constructed a storied music career since her 1988 debut. “It depends on the day,” says Malone, when asked whether she feels like her career has sped by fast as a New York City minute, or crawled on as slowly as a hot southern summer. “In general, it feels like time has flown by,” she decides. Almost.

“On the other hand, some days are really rough. You caught me at a good time!” she chuckles.

On first listen, Debris might not sound like music produced during one’s most glorious hours. It’s a post-breakup record, exploring the anger, sadness, frustration and, on its exceptionally haunting closing track, “Candle for the Lonely,” hopeful acceptance that one finds after a long held love is over. Malone will bring her latest to Boston audiences on April 8, at Johnny Dee’s in Somerville, and on April 10 at Sunset Bar & Grille in Providence.

Bay Windows spoke with Malone about the wreckage of a relationship, growing up gay, and leaving the past behind.

Q. Michelle, are you looking forward to coming to Boston?

I’m pretty excited for it. I love it there, especially when it’s warm. I don’t know how you all do it [get through winters]. You must come from hearty stock.

Your career has been a hearty one. Ten studio albums later, what are some of the personal highlights from your career?

Last year I was on the Grammy ballot [Best Contemporary Blues Album], and that was kind of a big deal. There have been other little things along the way, but what’s made more of a difference is being able to meet all the nice, different people along the way that are kind, love music, and are really supportive of independent music. … I played this house concert the other night for the most amazing people. They built me a little three by four foot platform. It was covered in white faux fur, with Christmas lights wrapped around the bottom. It was hilarious. I meet the best people.

When you listen to your earlier work, do you hear a difference? Ever cringe?

“I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I want to live and let live, including with my parents. I no longer question or judge their actions or their belief system.” The difference is monumental! The difference between what a 20-year-old thinks and feels and how they express themselves, and the way a 40-year-old does, there’s a chasm there that you can only fill with experience, right? I listen back to my first album, and I sound like a child. My voice is so high. I don’t really enjoy it. The songwriting is fine and the recording is fine but it sounds dated to me ’cause it was so long ago. Up until my last few records I tended to write more about my grievances and my angst of youth. Basically, I don’t really have that much angst in me anymore. I write about fun things. They still have attitude.

You may have less angst in you, but Debris is still a break-up album.

The vast majority of the album is about a break-up that I had several years ago and I just got around to writing about it. There are songs of hope, songs of regret and anger… and party songs, quite frankly. There’s a little bit of everything. There’s even the walk of shame! But the record ends in this lovely song, “Candle for the Lonely,” that’s more or less [saying] that there is someone out there for everyone. You just have to get up and wipe yourself off and start all over. This record is very personal to me, though I would have to say that all my records come from personal experience.

I do feel like I hear glimpses of humor throughout the album, too. Am I wrong?

I have to say, I do have a healthy sense of humor. I get it out there in a tongue and cheek way. Not like I’m trying to tell a joke. … You can take a good story and make it fun and sassy. “Restraining Order Blues,” for example. There isn’t a ton of truth in that song, but the overall feel and emotion of the song is very damn true. That’s what I wanted to do, what I felt like doing! Ironically, I had to exercise restraint not to do all that!

I would imagine writing about your experiences is what helps you get through the hard times.

Definitely. Writing for me, and I’d venture to say for most songwriters, it’s kept me out of therapy for a long time. That’s how I work things out. I did go to therapy [in the past] and it’s great to use the necessary tools, I recommend it for everyone at least once or twice. But going over and over, you go in and keep whining about the past, what it did to me. It kept me stuck in the past. Eventually I said, “I don’t want to be stuck in the past. I’m going to leave this baggage.”

Where does your sexuality fit into the baggage of that past?

Gosh, you know, I grew up with really strict, fundamentalist Christian parents and I have had to really work with that over the years and write about that because it was very difficult. … A lot of things I write about, I’ve found some resolve for. Debris is probably thematic in that sense. It’s about healing the inner child that was probably scared by the whole upbringing and the way people are scared by their parents. My parents didn’t intend for that to happen, they did the best they could.

Have you found resolution with your parents on that front?

I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I want to live and let live, including with my parents. I no longer question or judge their actions or their belief system. I see them as other independent adults like I would anyone else. We don’t always see eye to eye, but I try to have mutual respect for everyone and meet on that level. That takes me out of this feeling of being a child, and then I become accountable for my words, thoughts and feelings. And then I don’t feel the need to ponder other people’s feelings. Frankly, it’s been amazing to get to that place finally, so I don’t have all that anger. I really love it all. I see it all for what it is.

Paste Magazine Interview April 3, 2009

It’s been 21 years since Michelle Malone released her first record New Experience. She got her start in the same Atlanta scene as The Indigo Girls, but where Amy Ray and Emily Saliers lived in the softer side of folk-rock, Malone and her bands—first Drag the River and later Band de Soleil—were just as home in the roadhouse. Bottleneck slide guitar and bluesy harmonica gave a little punch to the folk circuit she toured. After working with a range of labels, she opened up her own SBS Records to release records from herself and her friends, including Debris, which was released earlier this week.

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Catching Up With Michelle Malone

from Paste Magazine Friday Apr 3, 2009
By Josh Jackson

It’s been 21 years since Michelle Malone released her first record New Experience. She got her start in the same Atlanta scene as The Indigo Girls, but where Amy Ray and Emily Saliers lived in the softer side of folk-rock, Malone and her bands—first Drag the River and later Band de Soleil—were just as home in the roadhouse. Bottleneck slide guitar and bluesy harmonica gave a little punch to the folk circuit she toured. After working with a range of labels, she opened up her own SBS Records to release records from herself and her friends, including Debris, which was released earlier this week.

Q. What’s going on in Alabama?

Absolutely nothing. That’s why I’m here. I moved here about a year ago. There’s no traffic. There’s really affordable, beautiful historical homes, and I live about four blocks off the Tennessee River. It’s really good living. I’m in Atlanta constantly, but it’s only about three and a half hours.

And you’re a Southerner born and bred?

Yeah, I’m from Atlanta. I love Atlanta but it sort of got to a point where it was just too crazy for me. I really wanted to just have a little peace and quiet when I came home and not have to deal with chaos and traffic.

Are you ready for the tour?

We’ll [tour] from April 1 until the end of the year. I have a new band that I’m really excited about, and we’ve been rehearsing. Lord knows they have a lot of material to learn. I’m putting the record out on my own label so there’s definitely a lot of work to do in that respect. So I’m trying to keep up with that and sit at my desk and be record executive for a few months before I go out on tour.

So how does that work being your own label? Are you just doing work from the road in a traveling office?

Yeah, you’ve got your phone and your email and that’s pretty much all you need at that point. But thank god technology has come so far so I can do it all from the road and not have to worry about it.

We’ve had Drag the River and Band de Soleil. Does the new band have a name?

\

It’s the Michelle Malone Banned – They wanted to be the Taliband, but I said no. I thought it was funny, but I wasn’t up for that.

And where are the new guys from?

They’re from here in Alabama. They have their own three-piece band, and I kind of just hi-jacked them, and now they’re learning my songs. But they’re really great musicians and great people. Their band was called Trial By Jury—Katie Heron on drums and she’s a bad ass. I’m very excited to be having a girl drummer again. Jason Rogers on bass and Ryan Keef on guitar. I’m really excited to be getting in the van with them. They’re excited because they’ve never really toured before because they’re young. That gives me new energy and new awareness for what we get to do for a living. It gives me a new appreciation for it.

You had a Drag the River reunion last fall. How’d that go?

It was really nice. It was really fun, really scary. It was exciting. It was so nice to me just to get together and play music again. We spent so much time together in some really formative years for me. They were like my brothers. It was just sweet and wonderful. We played the songs like we did back then. I think we were a great edgy rock band. We played maybe three shows. I’d love to play with them all the time, but they have lives. They’ve grown up while I stayed here doing this music thing.

Debris seems a little more electric than previous albums. How would you describe it in relation to what you’ve already done.

Sugarfoot and Stompin’ Ground and other albums I’ve done had electric guitar and had acoustic guitar. This album has both as well, but Nick DiDia the producer chose to showcase the electric tracks more than acoustic. You have some blues tracks but they’re more electrified. I write a bunch of songs and bring them in the studio, and the songs dictate how the record will sound. These songs were begging to get a little more dressed up and go to the party. Instead of sitting on the porch, they just really wanted to go out and have a big night on town. They were just asking to be slightly bigger produced. We got in some pretty powerful musicians on it. Peter Stroud plays guitar on several songs. That was an honor. And Nick, of course, is pretty much a legend in his own right. You get those guys together, and it’s just going to sound big. We brought the party and they just dressed it up.

The album ends on a much quiet note with “Candle For the Lonely.” How did that song come about?

Co-write with a friend of mine, Angela Kaset. More than anything, we’re just good friends. We get together and hang out and drink wine and occasionally write a song. So it wasn’t like our intention was to get together a writing appointment at 2 p.m. and write for three hours on a hit. That stuff doesn’t sit well with me. We were just discussing different aspects of love and life and relationships. We were talking about a person in particular, and how we wished they had what we had. She had just gotten married and was really happy. And I’m really happy. When you feel that good about it, you want everyone to feel it. And you also know the difference because you’ve also felt really crappy about it and felt lonely. Having been there, we just kind of took the song to that place. But I love how the record does have that polarization between songs like “Feather in a Hurricane” and “Candle For the Lonely.” I try not to get too worried about genre hopping or having the same subject matter 10 times on a CD. I think the songs come out as they come out for a reason, and I think the songs will just dictate how they should sound. I always just go with it. And I always have. And now more than ever it’s more accepted—because maybe iPod Shuffle has gotten people into this groove where they listen to so many different styles of music every four minutes. I think that’s great for me. I listen to all kinds of stuff, and I express that through writing.

What, in sort of the world of bluesy roots-rock has gotten you excited these days?

Quite frankly I’ve been so wrapped up that I honestly haven’t had a lot of time to go out and find good music. I always default to the same old stuff, frankly. I’m a classic-rock-dinosaur-music-listener. I love Exile on Main Street and old ’70s Bonnie Raitt.

Do you see your music as keeping that classic rock flame alive at all?

I don’t know if I would compare my music in classic rock, but I do think that people like to hear new music that feels honest and organic and that isn’t solely produced to sell a million records and get played on Gray’s Anatomy. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s not what I do, and it’s not what appeals to me. I do believe there’s beauty in all things, but it’s just not what I do. I do think people in my demographic—we do like guitar rock and some edgier stuff. I think fans of Lucinda Williams would enjoy this record. I think fans of Bonnie Raitt would enjoy this record. I think fans of the Rolling Stones would enjoy this record. That covers an awful lot of ground. Frankly I don’t know what else is out there because I’ve just had my head up my ass this year making a record.

Are there cities you particularly look forward to playing when you’re on tour?

Obviously I love playing at home in Atlanta. We’ll be there in April. And we’ll head up to the Northeast in April. It’s always exciting to play in New York. I have lots of friends there. And that’ll be fun because my band has never been there. That’s just going to put a whole new spin on it for me. We’re going to head out West in May and I love the West Coast, especially Portland and Seattle, and I have really great friends that I look forward to seeing every few years when we tour out there. It’s fortunate that gas prices have come down so that we can actually make the trip and not have to sell our gear when we get there. For a while there I just decided to take some time off because financially it was just getting silly because the majority of the money I was making on the road was just going into the gas tank. It seemed like I would OK staying home for a while, picking and choosing a few shows. It also created a lot of space and time for me to work on this record, which was a godsend. Since I’m putting it out myself, there’s just a lot of legwork to do, and I don’t think I would have had time to do it if I was touring.

Are there other artists you’ve looked to who’ve done this model, who’ve said, “You know, I don’t need a label, I can do this myself”? And do you put your heads together with other artists and see what people are doing right, and what’s working and what’s not?

I probably should, but I don’t really. I’ve been putting out my own records off and on since the ’80s. It’s just that when we did it back then we did it as a stepping stone to get a major deal. And after a few major deals, I went back to other independent labels until I realized, you know, I can do this myself. I then I started putting them out exclusively as a means to an end. I guess since I basically grew up with Amy [Ray] and Emily [Saliers] of the Indigo Girls, that I’ve always called them for advice. We’re like family, we’re toured together and recorded together, so I’ll call them and say, “Hey, what do you think of this tour promoter?” or “What do you think of this agent?” or “What do you think of this distributor?” I guess I do default to Amy more than anyone in this business.

And now they’ve stepped off the major label and are doing it a little more your way.

There’s a lot to be said for that. I won’t go into it, but major labels have their place and indie labels have their place. Once you get to a certain point into your career, you pretty much have to change partners. Major labels will just put you in the backseat once get to a certain place in your career. And rightfully so—they want to put their energy into the next Britney Spears or the next 20-year-old. I understand that. And I have an answer to that: Go to an indie or do it yourself. It’s not rocket science, that’s for sure.


“Why Michelle Malone hasn’t 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. Malone’s hand-to-mouth, pounding touring might limit her recording schedule, but her last couple of studio releases, Sugarfoot and Stompin’ Ground, are rousing and relentless toe-tapping beauties deserving of a boatload of attention.” – GEMELLI (The Village Voice, NY, NY)

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REVIEWS
Michelle Malone has been making hard-edged albums that combine blues, folk, rock, and country music for more than 20 years, but still remains criminally underrated as an artist. With a few exceptions, Debris is a blues-rock outing delivered with her trademark gritty vocals, solid guitar work, and a handpicked band that includes guitarist Peter Stroud (Sheryl Crow), keyboard player Tony Reyes (Gwen Stefani), longtime collaborator Phil Skipper on bass, and Dave Anthony (Butch Walker, Ike) on drums. Nick DiDia (Bruce Springsteen, the Black Crowes, Train) produces with a light hand to keep the sound raw and dirty.

“Marked” sounds like a Rolling Stones outtake and likens breaking up to a car crash or drive-by shooting; Malone’s vulnerable vocal underscores the song’s desolate feel. “Feather in a Hurricane” is tougher, with noisy slide guitar complementing Malone’s snarky delivery. “Restraining Order Blues” bounces in on a Bo Diddley beat; Malone recites all the damage she’s done to her ex’s property and possessions with a cynical smirk in her voice and celebrates her acting out, even as she’s cuffed and put into a police car. “Weed and Wine” recalls the happier days of a relationship behind a sadder but wiser beat and a wistful organ that sounds like the whistling of a far off freight train promising rescue and redemption. “Chattahoochee Boogaloo” is a tough bluesy country song about wild girls sneaking out of the bedroom windows on summer nights to explore the mysteries of womanhood, marked by stinging slide guitar and Malone’s crooning vocal. Malone breaks the frame with “14th Street and Mars” an R&B ballad with a ’60s flavor and an outstanding vocal, and “Candle for the Lonely,” a lament delivered with acoustic guitar and subtle melancholy country piano from Reyes.
~ j. poet, All Music Guide