They say the second album is always a difficult one to make. When I spoke to Malaya Blue at a gig last summer (see my article #64), she was very much aware of this; and it is worth quoting the lady once again: ‘There’s a little bit of me that’s anxious about the second album’ she told me. ‘Its always difficult. Do you do the first album again? Or do you move into something new? There is the danger of people buying the second album, and the first thing they do is compare it to the first. But I have the opportunity to be better, bolder, brighter – bring something slightly unexpected.’ Well she had some song titles back in August, and the deadline she gave then, March/April, has been met. She and her boys have been working hard, that’s for sure.
So what, I hear you ask, have the lady and her team come up with this second time? Malaya’s manager Steve Yourglivch sent me a pre-release download of the eleven-track Heartsick for review; and I must say I was immediately impressed by the whole collection. It is certainly not a copy of her first album – the remarkable, and highly acclaimed Bourbon Street. From the opening riffs on the title track; through the heart-rending emotion of ‘Acceptance’; the breath-taking keyboard and guitar solos on ‘Colour Blind’ that made me smile in appreciation; and the chirpy optimism of ‘Share The Love’; to the final unexpected ending of ‘Soul Come Back’; it is a beautiful journey through Malaya’s musically creative mind.
There was something of the Soul Diva strongly hinted at on Bourbon Street; (even more so on the double A-Side single released last summer); and Malaya’s musical background has certainly been steeped in that genre; but her very successful foray into Jazz-Blues on the debut album has enhanced this first love, and contributed to a well-rounded collection this time, that owes everything to the sum of her vocal/musical experience to date. The result is probably a far more personal album than the debut, I think. There are Soul; Blues; Jazz; Rock; Funk; and Gospel vibes going on in this album. This what Malaya Blue is all about!
On every song, She is dripping honey-voiced emotion over skillfully woven tapestries of layered sounds. She sings from the heart; from the soul… they are mostly her songs and totally her lyrics after all. And they are good lyrics too – interesting, and cleverly worded – demonstrating her considerable skills as a wordsmith too.
A fine band of musicians were assembled for the album. These consist of Malaya’s band: Dudley Ross (Guitars); Paul Jobson (Keys); Stuart Uren (Bass); Andrew McGuiness (Drums/Percs). And in addition to these: Paul Long (Piano); Carl Hudson (Piano); The Westward String Quartet (Strings); and none other than the legendary Blues aficionado Paul Jones (Harp). Strings were arranged by Dudley; Paul Long and Malaya’s husband Graham Pettican. The album was recorded at The Grange, Norfolk; engineered by Dave Williams; and cover artwork is by Chris Pettican.
I can’t comment on the CD version yet because I haven’t seen it. But it apparently comes with an eight-page booklet of lyrics; credits; thanks etc. So its a big thumbs up from the Quill. The album is released on Friday 1st April. PTMQ
Link to Malaya’s website