Most artists in fields other than popular music make their best work not in their youth but later in life, when they’ve had a time to contemplate their lives and create work that gives meaning to their lives and ours.
Not that previous recordings of guitarist/singer/songwriter Tommy Malone have been bad, but his recent recordings have a depth that those lacked. His songs on Poor Boy reflect on grownup situations and busted relationships but in a manner that is more wise than hot-headed on songs like “We Both Loose” and “Time to Move On.” There are also concessions to leaving youth behind in “Once in a Blue Moon.”
However, it’s not all rue and regret in both lyrics and music. “You May Laugh” and “All Dressed Up” are tight, upbeat rockers with Malone’s guitar turned up. The rhythm sound of the former is a great way to start the record; his slide on the latter as well as elsewhere on the record is searing and precise. Malone is a fantastic, underrated guitar player and this record gives him plenty of room to play without excessive noodling or showing off.
His playing is good enough so that on his cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Big Brother” allows him to substitute his guitar for Wonder’s keyboard and harmonica, and listeners won’t miss a thing. With Poor Boy, Tommy Malone has released another album full of great songs complete with excellent guitar work and singing that should extend his stellar musical reputation beyond the cognoscenti and to the general public, where it deserves to be.