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December 8, 2023

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Michelle Malone
Stompin' Ground (Daemon Records)

By: Scott D. Lewis

Michelle Malone is 15-year-plus veteran of the folk-rock scene who always seems just shy of really busting out and making a real run at things. If there's any justice in this world, Stompin' Ground will change all that. With roots reaching back to Bonnie Raitt and the Indigo Girls (Daemon is Amy Ray's label), Malone, like the similarly overlooked Danielle Howle, has a knack for taking the best elements of folk, country, blues, roots and rock, and mixing them up in a way that's warm and filling. Stompin' Ground opens with some chilling steel-sounding guitar and then "Lafayette" chugs to life before bursting into the type of dusty rocker that would make John Mellencamp green with envy. The following "2 Horns and 2 Wings" showcases Malone's sly humor and gives ample support for the album's title, while "Cry Me a River" adds some satisfying '70s AM radio pop to make one's leg happily bounce along. The wistful and longing "Cypress Inn" really brings Raitt to mind at times and the following "Preacher's Daughter" has more than a little of Michelle Shocked's campfire-y spirit and flare. "Samsonite" rocks out in fine roadhouse fashion and "True" closes the album on a somber, reflective note. What makes Stompin' Ground so wonderful is that it has the sound and feel of some good musician-friends just sittin' on porch, sippin' whiskey out of a shared jug and spinnin' out stellar tunes for anyone who might happen to stroll by. A blue ribbon winner all the way.
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