Bill Mallonee has given new meaning to the word “prolific” in his long and storied career as a traveling troubadour, singer/ songwriter, and all-around provocateur. When you put his work as the creative force and leader of the Athens, GA, band Vigilantes of Love with his fruitful solo career, he’s made 50 LPs worth of tunes. (Many of his WPA recordings never made the journey to plastic and were only available as digital downloads. Still, 2011’s The Power & The Glory and more so here on Amber Waves, Mallonee has captured the energy and creativity of his earliest, most celebrated albums in a way that his lo-fi digital collections could not. First, he’s joined by drummer Kevin Heuer and bassist Jake Bradley (both did a stint in VoL), and, thanks to the support of his Kickstarter fans, they’ve recorded in a real studio allowing for a more artful texture throughout. Of course, like Bob Dylan and Neil Young, two to whom Mallonee is often compared, there’s a certain repetitiveness across his lengthy catalog, but on Amber Waves – perhaps his best album in a decade – the guitars are more intricate and beautiful. The songs coalesce around the ideas of overcoming life’s cruel fates and hardships through the power of Love, who “always gets the last word.” It may well be that “Once Your Heart Gets Broken” and it “just keeps on breaking,” you learn a few things worth passing on: “A six-string drag through an old tweed amp/healing spirits and breaking camp/and the high desert kiss of my girl/and God’s face is peaking ‘round the door/ in that high and lonesome tremolo/and in Louis Armstrong’s ‘What a Wonderful World.’” It’s quite enough to make you look forward to the next 50 CDs.
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