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August 2003 Pick of the Month

Need to Bleed
Artist: Bill Mallonee & Vigilantes of Love
Label: Lo-Fidelity Records
Length: 8 Tracks/36:18

Bill Mallonee is one of the most prolific songwriters alive. Lately he seems to be releasing more albums every year than most one-hit-wonders will release over their entire careers. Since he officially disbanded the Vigilantes of Love he seems to also have gone through more band names than you'll find in your neighborhood garages. In Christian circles he's been compared to the likes of Mark Heard and in more secular circles he's been compared to Dylan. He's always been a critical success and a commercial failure.

To some, maybe even to himself, his lack of success remains a mystery. But is it really so surprising that in a world where instant gratification rules the airwaves a singer-songwriter who writes songs about grace and failure, love and mystery and simple truths hidden behind walls of lies would not be adored by the masses? The thing is, Mallonee isn't very entertaining. His songs are more like a mirror. Not too many people can honestly face that unflattering piece of glass, much less pay $15 a pop to do so. In any case, Mallonee keeps forging ahead releasing albums and playing concerts and most importantly ­ singing his songs. And the world is a little better, a little more beautiful for that fact. He remains as a single voice (sometimes accompanied by a band with one name or another) singing his praise to his creator.

This EP is a collection of previously released songs and unreleased acoustic demos aimed for his "hardcore" fans. But this little gem would also be a great introduction to this man and his music. As the title, Need to Bleed, implies, these songs are very personal, very fragile, very human. The acoustic demos offer a stripped down, almost naked look at the passions and soul of this man. At their core is something that we can all relate to, the human condition. The more I listen to Mallonee's music the less I want to compare him to other singer-songwriters and the more I hear echoes of the psalms.

Hopefully, Mallonee will bleed some more of these lost recordings. And hopefully more people will discover his songs and join in the chorus.

Darryl A. Armstrong 07/21/03


 

   
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