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Michelle Malone

Hello Out There – 2001 (SBS)

Reviewed by Brian Steinberg

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CDs by Michelle Malone

The first song on this 12-track disc is entitled "Hello," but the narrator of the song is already saying goodbye. "My bags are packed by the door/Don't really know what they're waiting for" the singer says, and it's just the first stanza in a stack of ruminative tunes that evoke Joan Osborne as well as the singer-songwriter era of the 1970's.

In addition to the title track, highlights include the catchy but contemplative "Super Ball" and the talking-bluesish "Surrender." Malone keeps a shimmery, jangly guitar tone on tap throughout, and the fretwork here is extremely impressive. And once in a while, she gets loud, too (Check out "No Destination"). Strict country fans may have to expand their horizons a bit to give Malone her due, but there's nothing wrong with having to reach sometimes.