Heather Maloney

LIVE: Heather Maloney @ Jammin' Java - 9/12/13

One of many differences between Heather Maloney and you or I is that we would not be in nearly as good a mood as she was after driving 10 hours to Thursday night’s show at Jammin’ Java. (That’s literally driving, not having one of her two band mates driving her; she was behind the wheel for the duration. And remember, there was a big ole storm that night.) To say that the weather and the drive didn’t affect her show is an understatement; Maloney offered a wonderful performance of music and storytelling ranging from quiet, soft folk ballads to jumpy pop songs, from southern blues rock to a Leonard Cohen cover that easily gave the original a run for its money.

She kicked off the night with “Nightstand Drawer” from her second album, Time and Pocket Change. The song – one of many that features Maloney playing a four-string tenor guitar – was a great intro, and the repeated chorus of “hey baby, you can talk to me tonight” was heeded by the crowd, which happily exchanged dialogue with Maloney throughout the show. Storytelling is rapidly becoming as much of a Maloney staple as her music; she led into a speedy cover of the Beatles’ “Her Majesty” by talking about how she would jump on her bed as a child while listening to a record of the song. (She added a fantastic cover of Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” later in the night.) “Angelfish,” a new song, was preceded by a great story about a visit to Mark Twain’s house.


TO DO LIST: Heather Maloney @ Jammin' Java TONIGHT!

It’s been a busy year for Heather Maloney. Her third album, Heather Maloney, came out earlier this year on Signature Sounds Records and received a great deal of acclaim (especially from this website). Earlier this summer she embarked on a tour that will take her across most of the country, lasting through the end of the year. Lucky for us, she’ll make a stop at Jammin’ Java on September 12, her first stop in the DC area since playing in drummer Ben Tufts’ 16th Street basement concert space.

It’s easy to describe Maloney as a folk singer, but it’s also lazy. It also does a disservice to say that she adds elements of rock, blues, and jazz into her music, as it makes it sound like an artist trying to do too much. She is, rather, a songwriter who can take simple, beautiful acoustic melodies and turn them into something immense and profound.

Even better, Maloney is incredibly fun and engaging live performer, amping up the playful music of her albums and taking her already pristine vocals to another level. In addition, she does a darn fine job of making sure her band joins in on her mini-dances, scat singing, and other antics. As the venues she plays get bigger, so do her performances.

Opening the show will be folk duo Naked Blue and Americana musician Dean Fields. 


Best Of 2013 (So Far): Justin's Picks

2013 will officially go down as they year I felt old. Not out of touch, per se; I kept up with new music and listened to just as much as I always have. But as every major release came and went, I found myself asking what it was I was missing. People raved about Daft Punk and all I heard was glorified disco. People freaked out about Vampire Weekend and all I heard was grating, cutesy pop that for whatever reason reminded me of those four douchebags singing “Constance Fry” in Trading Places. Worst of all, people flipped their lids about the National – a band that I truly loved at one point – and all I heard was exceedingly dull music that was only appropriate for a therapist’s waiting room. “It grows on you,” people said. So does fungus and flesh-eating bacteria.

All that said, while I seem to have developed a Chunky Kevin-esque “get off my lawn” streak, man there’s been some good music this year. Granted, it’s a bit on the lighter side than my favorite album of last year (and the last five years), Celebration Rock, and two of my ten selections were released just this month, but these are ten of albums I’ll have a hard time bumping from my year-end list.

10.  Savages – Silence Yourself

Yeah, I’m on board. A brilliant amalgamation of blistering punk and 80’s goth sensibilities (a little Mission UK mixed with singer Jehnny Beth’s Siouxsie-sounding caterwaul) make for a furiously wonderful romp.

  

9.  Kacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park

Perhaps you’ve shied away from this album because of an inherent hate of any country music made after 1990. I get it. But there’s something about these 12 extremely confident, well written tunes that make Musgraves sound much older than her 25 years. This is less Taylor Swift and more John Prine or Lucinda Williams.

 

8.  Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana

As much as Savages are a throwback to the 80s, Northampton, Massachusetts’ Speedy Ortiz is a throwback to the 90s. Sadie Dupuis’ vocals channel Liz Phair, or to make a more 90’s reference, Veruca Salt’s Nina Gordon. Combined with nift sounds-sloppy-but-is-actually-brilliant rock reminiscent of Pavement or Built to Spill, Major Arcana marks the arrival of a fantastic new band.


REVIEW: Heather Maloney - Heather Maloney

It was not hard to harbor a bit of trepidation prior to the release of Heather Maloney’s third record, simply titled Heather Maloney. It was first on a label, Northampton’s Signature Sounds, home of artists such as Josh Ritter, Peter Mulvey, and Erin McKeown; would that mean a turn towards more straight folk, rather than the wonderfully eclectic mixed bag of her earlier music? And of course, it was the follow-up to her absolutely sensational 2011 album Time and Pocket Change, which is a tough act for anyone to follow. Somehow, however, Heather Maloney manages to beat its predecessor at its own game. All of the artistry, flawless musicianship, and playfulness of Time and Pocket Change is here, only it sounds more polished, and she adds a level of introspection missing from her previous records (which were so good you didn’t notice it was missing).

The amazingly catchy “Great Imposter” kicks off the album, a toe-tapping good time with a funky bass riff and banjo. The great, upbeat vibe continues on “Hey Broken,” which starts a capella before drums and piano join in on the fun. Maloney’s versatility then begins to shine on “Fire For You,” a wonderful acoustic jazz number that illustrates her chameleon-like voice.

Let’s talk about that voice for a second – without a voice like Maloney’s, the wonderful variation in the music might not work. The slow, jazzy “Fire For You” is as different in tone and vibe from a wonderful upbeat folk number like “Flutter” as it is from the Regina Spektor-esque “Grace,” which begins with a singing of “Amazing Grace” by the Young At Heart Chorus, a choral group whose minimum age is 73. In the hands of the wrong artist it could all come off as gimmicky, but with Maloney (and help from musician/producer Ken Maiuri) it works perfectly.


LIVE: Heather Maloney w/Laura Tsaggais and Andy Zipf

We attended  all kinds of shows during our Rocktober coverage here at Chunky Glasses, from the smallest clubs in town to large venues such the Patriot Center. That’s one of the great things about the DC music scene – without looking too hard, you can find excellent tunes just about anywhere. So it was that we found ourselves at the 16th Street home of drummer Ben Tufts for a fantastic house concert with locals Laura Tsaggaris and Andy Zipf, and Northampton, Massachusetts’ Heather Maloney. Tufts’ cozy basement proved to be the perfect venue for an intimate show by three wonderful up-and-coming singer/songwriters. Each of these artists write beautiful melodies, but also possess astounding voices, and to hear them in such a small space was truly a gift.


REVIEW: Heather Maloney - Time & Pocket Change

Make no mistake; we’re HUGE music geeks here at ChunkyGlasses. But even the biggest music geeks can somehow miss something stunning and beautiful, which we did with Heather Maloney’s sophomore album Time & Pocket Change. We won’t hang our heads about it though; we’re too busy basking in the glow of an amazing artist who deserves considerably more attention than she’s currently getting.

Released in April 2011, Time & Pocket Change has been slowly garnering stellar reviews up and down the east coast. Maloney, a New Jersey native, is now based in western Massachusetts and as she tours more frequently from her home base, word of this incredible talent continues to spread. Her voice ranges from powerful yell to playful warble to melted-butter-smooth; her music runs the gamut from sparse and foreboding to crafty and – I’ll use the word again – playful. The songs call to mind any number of other singer-songwriters but she manages to beat them all at their own game; her straight pop songs are constructed better than those of Dar Williams, her introspective songs are more surrealistic and evocative than Kristin Hersh’s, and her creative flourishes (such as a jazzy trumpet on the title track) outshine and are considerably less contrived than those of Regina Spektor.