I could write about the prolific nature of Athens, Georgia native, now New Mexico resident Bill Mallonee or his work with The Vigilantes Of Love or about how he has been one of the leading lights in the roots-rock/Americana movement. I could, but I won’t – you can find a great deal from Mr. Mallonee and hear it for yourself. What I want to talk about is his newest album, done with The Big Sky Ramblers – which I believe is his 50th (yes, you read correctly), Lands & Peoples.
From the moment the acoustic guitar notes come out of the speakers on “No More Dark Clouds”, you’re immediately drawn in by the warmth of Mr. Mallonee’s vocals, the poetry in his lyrics and the tension built by the accompaniment. Tasteful, understated and dynamic with some very tasteful guitar fills. “The Darkness” has a crisp riff and a “haunting” feel and some fine harmonies; “Steering Wheel Is A Prayer Wheel” is upbeat, countrified and one of the album’s standouts and “String Of Days” is gentle and flows – like a musical river. The title track, “Lands & Peoples” is as fine a folk-country piece as you could ask with tasty banjo and harmonica to open the track; “Swing It Joe” is a masterful tale set to a clean twangy body and another album standout.
Twelve tracks and all fit in perfect balance with one another. Bill Mallonee is certainly a master of the genre, but more importantly, his music has an emotional reach that few can approximate. And I can listen to this album over and over again.
Lands & Peoples is available now