These past few weeks I’ve been partaking in bite-sized pieces this latest work: Slow Trauma by the musician known as Bill Mallonee. The Big Sky Ramblers is the current name of all who record and perform alongside him. These days it is mostly Bill and his kind bride, Muriah Rose. This release – yes I have listened to most of the 70 plus releases – is a punctuation mark of sorts on where his talent, style and career are in 2016. He no longer enjoys the big production values on his latest releases like on his Vigilantes of Love albums, but on this travelogue they are not missed – it is essential listening. This is an honest piecing together of the many postcards from the highway. It is set to the jangle and strum of various guitars and layers of drum, bass and piano. The vocals and instruments are plaintive and wounded, not unlike a long night of wandering and crying out in the New Mexican desert with only a handful of forgotten ghosts to cross your path and just a few hungry glossies or diamond backs that would rather not be bothered.
Well, I took it to the road; these skeleton dreams
Wrapped ’em in an old suit, railroads & high~beams
My pen? It never went dry; this guitar could always woo
Till my soul was the color of box car rust & my heart was big sky blue
After all is said, done, and mostly unresolved, you realize that none of the promises under God’s blue sky – at least on your parcel of land – has been forthcoming. This American Dream, while maybe not a nightmare, has slowly unfolded as a slap on the head in a crowded room among those without eyes to see or ears to hear. But yet a scent in the air not unlike hope lingers.
Baby, gimme those keys, sit back & just watch me
Navigate this thing back home with considerable ease
Down these sad, back streets of doubt to a new & brighter day
Waiting for the stone to be rolled away
When all maps are torn and your via point never appears on your second-hand GPS, what are you left with? You know someday you’ll fly away to glory, but what about today, and those many tomorrows lying in wait? I see hope in these words of letting go, coming to terms with the many roads traveled, knowing in one’s heart-of-hearts that God will do His good work and though mostly unseen, He just might be in the driver’s seat.
And go you surely will & if you’re lucky you’ll be missed
You can go with God or with a clenched fist
The Great Beyond is gonna have to wait another day
But, you’ll get a new set of wheels on the King’s Highway
A new set of wheels on the King’s Highway
This latest release is the most musically complex, “western” and soulful of Mr. Mallonee’s vast travelogue. A snapshot, a eulogy, and a tattered desert map to the shrine of Our Lady of Hope and the stars.