Norwich based Malaya Blue has a new album out on tomorrow. Its been a long time coming. It has been well worth the wait.
‘Still’ is the result of a collaboration with Dennis Walker – American blues producer, songwriter and bass player extraordinaire, best known for his work with Robert Cray and BB King. This is the first time Dennis has worked with a UK based artist.
When I interviewed Malaya recently, she said that working with Dennis was like going back to school and starting all over. Her previous album, Heartsick, was good, but this new piece of work is classy, sassy and just goes to show, what those of us who have been following Malaya Blue for a few years know, the lady is a class act.
The album ‘Still’ is a collection of twelve love songs sung with a smoldering passion and with some none too shabby musical arrangements – to put it mildly. A carefully crafted, unrushed album with quality oozing from every track.
The title track, however, was not penned by Malaya nor Dennis, no: this is a previously unrecorded song written by Richard Cousins – five times Grammy winner – who gave the song to Malaya. Recording someone else’s lyrics was new to Malaya but you’d never think it, she has taken them and made them her own.
‘Kiss My Troubles Away’ kicks off the blue side of the album and is the track that anyone who works in or around the entertainment industry will relate to. Coming home late from working a gig, in a studio or at a festival weekend and reality hits… the dog needs walking, the laundry is sitting there, admin emails need answering… we’ve all been there. This may well become my driving home track!
Malaya and her hard working manager have worked to put together not just an excellent set of songs but have also gathered some fine musicians as befits the quality of this production. Just listen to the guitar work on Down To The Bottom – indeed, Nat Martin’s effortless work is all over this recording. But if that wasn’t enough, Betty LaVette’s guitarist Brett Lucas contributes to two tracks.
Listening to this album it is difficult to think that most of the work was done remotely – even before pandemic restrictions made remote collaboration the norm. That Dennis and Malaya have not yet met in person goes some way to testify to the power of modern communications – I daren’t think what this recording could have been like had they met!
Recorded, mixed and mastered at Ashwood Studios in Norwich this is a regional recording with international class and influence.
Malaya and I chatted about the album just before the single ‘Down to the Bone‘ was released last month. You can catch that interview here:
Pre order ‘Still’ by Malaya Blue here
Who is Dennis Walker?
…quite simply a world class producer and songwriter, and I mean World Class. His record speaks for itself, nominated no less than 5 times for Grammy Awards and a winner 3 times. He has also won over 20 WC Handy Awards (now the Blues Music Awards)