Artist: Heather Maloney
Album: Making Me Break
Label: Signature Sounds
Release Date: 04/28/2015
Maloney’s second disc for the aspiring/inspiring Signature Sounds label is a bit schizo. In her desire to make (and I quote) “a big, rock, indie record,” Maloney sounds just like – well – everyone else trying to make a big, rock, indie record. But when she returns to the melodically quirky, less noisy (but no less determined) acoustic arrangements that had people clamoring to her corner (2011’s arresting Time and Pocket Change, 2013’s quietly enduring SS debut Heather Maloney), Making Me Break begins to soar.
Produced by Bill Reynolds (Band of Horses), you would think the big, rock, indie record would be an earthier, alt-country sound than the thumpa-thumpa-thump-thump which emanates from a million garages and leadens several of the tunes. “Linger Longer,” with its pop perfect chorus, is the first victim, essentially short circuiting an otherwise radio friendly tune. “Otherwise,” the lead-off single and a lyrical paean to individual freedom, gets the 4/4 treatment and fizzles. “Involuntary,” a gorgeous tune of a war-torn relationship (“There’s just no song anymore / since you came home from the war”), is marred by the utterly predictable martial/military drums and syrupy orchestra.
Hissy fit aside, Making Me Break hits its true stride and sticks in the audio memory with “Rather Be Free,” “Hey Serena,” the story-song “Eighteen Fifty-Five,” “Nightstand Drawer,” and “Oh Hope, My Tired Friend.” Maloney may not cut into the mainstream like other Signature Sounds artists (Eilen Jewell, Zoe Muth) but her cult following is growing, so listen very carefully.
– Mike Jurkovic