Michelle Malone – Rock and Roll with a Lot of Soul
Michelle Malone, the Atlanta-based guitarslinger and roots-rock singer is releasing her 15th album in March, titled Slings & Arrows. She will be hitting The Attic at Rock Brothers Brewery in Ybor City on January 18th, and we had a chance to catch up with her by phone as she prepared to head out on her multi-state tour in advance of the album’s release.
Slings and Arrows is packed full of everything that Malone encompasses – hard-hitting roots rock, wailing guitar solos, empowering anthems, soulful ballads and start-to-finish good times. The entire album carries a feeling of defiant positivity which perfectly sums up Michelle Malone.
Right out of the gate the album opens up with the raucous barn-burning track “Just Getting Started.” Slings and Arrows flows much like Georgia’s own Chattahoochee River: at times dirty, grungy, but full of life as in the opening track but then pristine and smooth as in the third track, “Sugar On My Tongue.”
Described on her website as an album full of “Georgia Noise” and by her own description as “a microcosm of issues that I’ve re-encountered over the past year,” Slings And Arrows covers a wide range of emotions and sounds. The album was recorded live in the studio over a five-day period. Michelle describes “Georgia Noise” as music based in blues and R&B. Georgia had James Brown, Little Richard, Ray Charles and many more. Those are the roots of Georgia music, and the tree grows out from there. It’s Rock and Roll with a lot of soul.
Michelle talks with reverence about how Georgia was a hub back in the early train days and everyone came to Atlanta when the farming dried up. They all came to the city to work, and they made music, and recording studios popped up. Great players like Blind Willie McTell. People came from all over. Eventually all those people went on to Memphis, Chicago and beyond. Georgia roots, though, came from that. The rockin’, bluesy soulful sound. You can hear these roots throughout the entire album, but to my ears they are best personified by the track “Beast’s Boogie,” a pounding, bluesy juke-joint song that is sure to get toes tapping.
Her music rises from Malone’s perspective of the social situation in the world and social media especially. She was hurt by all the anger in the world and by repeated social media attacks she personally encountered, feeling directly affected by all that but wanting to use her own music to bring people together. By her own words she does not ever try to get “preachy” about things or to get on a soapbox, but she pushed hard to create a record that filled her desire to set an example. She also strongly emphasized that her desire was not to be political, rather to try to bring people together. Her specific comment about this was, “I’m not here to tell people what to do; I’m just here to be an example.”
This may be demonstrated no better than in the second track, “Love Yourself.” It’s perfectly Michelle Malone in that it is a song full of positivity, full of life, while still being fiercely defiant. “Civil War” touches on many of these same themes, and Michelle again said that while the song covers very heavy themes, she made a point to give the song a happy ending. She wants to fire people up and help them rise up out of negative situations. The song also gives a chance for Michelle to pull out the mandolin and show off her skills on that instrument.
A guitar player at heart, another layer throughout the album is Michelle’s switching between acoustic and electric guitar. By her own account she does not like having to choose between the two. She says “a good acoustic is so driving and percussive. I like to put that on records to brighten things up and drive it more.” The final track on the album, “Boxing Gloves,” shows off these layers well. The song is rich, dense and again full of empowerment while still managing to be a gnarly power cord-heavy jam.
Catch Michelle live at The Attic in Ybor City, Florida on Thursday January 18th.
Slings and Arrows comes out March 2nd, but if you pre-order now at on her website you can get a copy in February before the official release.
Michelle Malone Album Release Tour
01/12 30A Songwriter Festival | Santa Rosa FL
01/18 The Attic at Rock Brothers | Ybor City | Tampa FL
01/20 Private event | Sarasota FL
01/28 Guitar Master Class | First Esistentialist Congregation | Atlanta GA
02/24 The Crimson Moon | Dahlonega GA
03/02 High Cotton Music Hall | Hartwell GA
03/09 The Cary Theater | Cary NC
03/10 Greensboro NC
03/11 Ambrose West | Asheville NC
03/23 George Link, Jr. Gilmer Arts Playhouse | Ellijay GA
03/24 Eddie’s Attic | Decatur GA
Check out the video for her single “Feather In A Hurricane” off her previous album Debris