Bill Mallonee - Locket Full of Moonlight
The title track kicks off with heavy drums and psychedelic guitars giving way to a beat-box for Shellshocked - a shock indeed for anyone familiar with Mallonee's usual Americana style but with his new album, Bill seems determined to fully explore the alt in alt.country. After the first few tracks, the album changes tack with the likes of Sweetness and Light, an acoustic love song, or the heavy folk of Table for two and After the glow but the listener is constantly kept on their toes with each song taking a different approach. Closing the first part of the CD, Mallonee revisits Locket full of moonlight revamping the song from top to bottom for an acoustic/harmonica version ending with feedbacking guitars - a pure spine-tingling gem.
After that Wilcoesque experimental first-half, Bill ventures off for six beautiful alt.country-tinged tracks that showcase him in a more intimate setting with his sorrowful voice to the fore. His lyrics visit again his love/hate relationship with touring (I'm not there), as well as the locked-out of Western society (Bearing the load) or self-doubt (Weight of Glory). Though theses tracks are more bonus tracks of sorts, they offer another facet of the songwriter and work as a counterpoint to his more experimental ventures. Closing with Going South, Mallonee reminds us of his Southern roots and that his songwriting is up there with the likes of Ryan Adams, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle.
Clocking in at over an hour with sixteen songs, Locket... is a definite bargain and a good introduction to Bill Mallonee's talent - though some of it may need some repeated listening to be fully appreciated, the strong songwriting keeps the album together making it his strongest release since Audible Sigh.