MICHELLE MALONE – Acoustic Winter

Album: Acoustic Winter

Artist: Michelle Malone

Label: SBS

Release Date: February 04, 2014

Michelle Malone 2-4

www.michellemalone.com

 BY FRED MILLS

 If Georgia-spawned songstress Michelle Malone was aiming for introspection on her latest release, she achieved that goal, in spades, because Acoustic Winter fairly demands one settle in and sit back, letting the evening unfold gently and quietly, with Malone’s heavenly pipes and sleek picking to stroke your solitude. Even her choice of covers suits this sensibility: the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” gets a spartan reading underlined by a subtle swing, ditto the Stones’ “Wild Horses,” rich in nuance yet unsettling in how it conveys several decades’ worth of world-weariness.

 There’s much to meditate upon here, from the lilting ripples of opening track “Home” and the minor-chord Brit-folk of “Burning Star” to the subtly celebratory “Super Ball” (a tribute to an unspecified “you,” it’s a sonic shoulder to lean on when things turn troubling or dark) and a reworking of Malone’s haunting anthem “Where Is the Love,” originally appearing on her 2006 classic Sugarfoot. Acoustic Winter is not specifically “acoustic,” for there are electric instruments present, deployed judiciously amid piano, upright bass, percussion and guitars. But the vibe is still rural, in places canyonesque and others evocative of, as one songtitle makes explicit, “A Walk in the Woods”; that instrumental, featuring just Malone’s fingerpicking, has an internal resonance all its own.

 As I type, the Southeast is getting slammed by a wicked snow and ice storm, so staying inside and keeping warm is the order of the day. Acoustic Winter is the perfect companion. Blazing fire and bottle of wine optional.

 DOWNLOAD: “A Walk in the Woods,” “Burning Star,” “Where Is the Love”

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