Unfortunately a very busy 2013 has kept me from what I enjoy most, writing reviews and doing that good ole Down the Line Zine. Getting back into the swing of things, fresh year, a new start and reviews that I need to catch up on. Seems right that the first one I get to is Bill Mallonee and The High Desert Freaks release Dolorosa. This is a distinctive and beautiful album that I think is by far Mallonee’s best release in his solo career. There’s a certain feel that I expect when getting Bill’s music, there’s an ambience in the haunting lyrics and an emotion that is unmistakably human at the core; there’s the honesty in outlook, the gentle ringing backdrop of things unseen, and a perspective that comes from years of travel and experience.
Bill is gifted in ways that I don’t see from many musicians on the scene these days. He’s the blue collar hero in the vein of Woody Guthrie, he’s the poet that outshines Dylan on most days, and he picks, strums and plays those strings that echo the dust and smell of the open highway as he lays all his best hopes, fears and hopelessness out for all to see. There’s a connection to this music, a camaraderie for the weary traveler’s on life’s highway, an unmistakable beauty that the listener finds and can relate to in a way that most musicians cannot express with this type of sincerity and honesty.
This album is an amazing 12 tracks plus 4 additional bonus tracks. It takes the listener on the journey, a journey that we all encounter in various ways, that journey of life and circumstance. A full band release here with point on mixing and mastering, this is a MUST have for fans of folk/Americana, for those who need the reminder of better things in spite of the present trials, for those who feel burnt out but clutch the feeling of better days coming with a steel grip. This album is the best Bill has released, and although it will be hard to top, I know he will…he always does!
As a last note…yes, you can stream this on bandcamp and listen, do Bill a favor and thank him by purchasing this album (and his 56 other albums!) and expressing your gratitude with action and not just words. You can now also purchase albums as gifts for others through bandcamp…support independent music!
” I learned the night skies when I came here
I pinned my hope on every star
I was taught the geography of fear early on
…till I knew it all by heart
’cause the hangman? he’s always ready
to help you straighten up your tie
tip your hat if you should meet him
and by all means: spit in his eye ”