Sunday, July 18, 2010
Writer: Bob Malone
Title: Ain’t What You Know
Writer: Rick Galusha
When your friends and co-workers are among the finest studio musicians from one of the world’s most competitive music centers, you have an advantage if played properly. Born in Maine, reared in New Jersey, a graduate of Berklee School of Music and apprenticed in New Orleans; the sixth album by Los Angles based studio keyboardist Bob Malone, “Ain’t What You Know” is a finely honed, exceptionally well crafted album. Much like the ultimate genre hopper Eric Clapton, Malone is able to move effortlessly between overt blues based tracks to the John Hiatt-like, ‘Small Girl’ or the pop radio, ‘Butterfly.’
Malone’s choices for the albums only two covers; The Band’s ‘Up on Cripple Creek’ and The Faces’ “Stay With Me,” indicate the artist’s larger vision for the album; blues based textures relying on solid songwriting and smooth studio production with an eye on commercial appeal to a mature audience with a Classic Rock background. Producer Bob DeMarco effectively uses depth and space, including a smokin’ horn section and female back-up vocals, to actively engage the listener’s ears while paying homage to the song.
While only reminiscent of a traditional blues sound, Malone appeals to the roots and blues audience with heartfelt ballads, nuisanced arrangements and a never ending tour schedule. If one were to take the blues credibility of Dr. John, the songwriting of Jimmy Webb and the arrangement skills of early period Elton John, we see Malone in vesture that suits him perfectly. More traditional blues fans may find this particular outing to lack sufficient rough edges; however, blues and roots radio programmers that seek to introduce lesser known artists will be able to widen their audience. Over its ten tracks this album is a well rounded and well above average.