Like untold others, Tommy Malone has made a living playing the guitar and singing songs for the last 40 years but has never troubled the chart compilers; yet the album sleeve is still littered with photos of a man with a self-satisfied smile and; if this album is anything to judge his career by - those smiles are justified.
Malone has a well worn in voice that is perfect for these grown up songs about life, love and hope in a hopeless world.
On the well crafted chug-a-long rocker album opener; Home, Malone talks about how he feels heading back Home after five years in Tennessee, following Hurricane Katrina. Malone’s sweatshop guitar playing and Jon Cleary’s finest Honky-Tonk piano playing make this a great way to get the party started.
Mississippi Bootlegger could easily be a song-by-numbers, but the band find top gear early on and by the final chugging chords the sweat is virtually running down the listeners back as Malone paints beautiful pictures with words.
Things slow down and get downright funky on the title song Natural Born Days; with Malone forcing the words out over some pretty mean understated guitar playing; making it one of my favourite songs right from the off.
The mood picks up on the cautiously optimistic love song, No Reason which, again is a great song backed by five minutes of a mature band right at the very top of their game, with guitar licks, drum fills and running bass lines slithering in and out like a serpent looking for a virgin.
If I ever get to finance the filming of a James Lee Burke, Dave Robicheaux Detective novel; set in the swamps of Louisiana the bar band in the opening shot will be Tommy Malone and friends rocking the joint with Life Goes On; or perhaps it could be during the final credits; but the point is they go together like biscuits and gravy.
The album finishes with a slow and insightful Word on the Street; which is probably for the best as my pulse was racing far too fast for a man of my age.
Wow! I love discovering new diamonds like Tommy Malone.