Bill Mallonee’s 50th release (that is not a typo by the way) is one of his most impassioned. I realize that is a bold statement when the referenced artist has such a large body of work. The lyrics on “Amber Waves” are full of pain and loss. However, there is an underlying hope in these songs. Faith is certainly a theme that is the undertone of the music that has defined his career. However, he never paints faith as an easy road. To the contrary, his writing usually characterizes faith and hope as an uneasy battle. “Amber Waves” is no exception.
My personal favorite is a song called “Faith (Comes Soaked in Gasoline”. It was influenced by Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath”. His portrait is of the discrimination and degradation felt by the residents of depression era Hoovervilles. Not constrained by time, those analogies are just as relevant today. Loss is a central theme on “Amber Waves”. In the song “Long Since Gone” he says, “In a sea of progress history doubles back to shake hands with you. When you’ve got nothing to trade on…you’ve got nothing left to lose”.
Though not as heralded, Mallonee’s songwriting is on the level with Dylan or Springsteen. The lyrics on “Amber Waves” strike the soul. The musical arrangements are for the most part Americana. Although he does employ a Mellotron, which is something you don’t hear very often. He does not lose sight of the fact that a listener wants a good melody as well as impactful lyrics. After all, it may be the lyrics that give a song meaning, but the tune is what keeps it in the mind. In short, good tunes accompany the message, and the combination of the two is what makes “Amber Waves” so special.
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About the author: Chip and his family live in Birmingham, AL. Roll Tide!