Blue Heart Records/Nola Blue
British singer/songwriter Malaya Blue released her debut recording “Bourbon Street” in 2014. That year she played the Great British Rock and Blues Festival in Lincolnshire and has since carved a path across England. She received four nominations from The British Blues Association and was a finalist in the UK’s Blues Challenge. She followed up in 2016 with her sophomore recording “Heartsick” and began receiving International recognition.
This is Malaya Blue’s third studio album and it’s a collaboration with the three-time Grammy winning producer Dennis Walker, who produced both Robert Cray’s 1986 album “Strong Persuader”, and Cray’s 1988 follow-up “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark”. Walker also produced B.B. King’s 1993 Grammy winning album “Blues Summit”.
The band includes Nat Martin, guitars; Steve Watts, keyboards; Eddie Masters, bass; and Mike Horne, drums and percussion. The title track leads off the album and it’s from the five-time Grammy winning bassist Richard Cousins of The Robert Cray Band, and keyboardist Hendrix Ackle who plays with The Philipp Fankhauser Band. “Still” is a sentimental ballad originally intended for Cray, and it’s a perfect fit for Malaya Blue; with the award winning bassist sitting in.
The eleven songs that follow are all originals co-written by Malaya Blue. Six of them were written with Walker; four with the addition of Malaya’s husband pianist Graham Pettican, and two with the addition of guitarist Brett Lucas. The songs written with Walker and Pettican include the scornful “Down To The Bone”; the swinging “It’s A Shame”; the breakup song “Settle Down Easy”, and the gospel tinged “Why Is Peace So Hard”. The songs written with Walker and Lucas are “Down To The Bottom” and “These Four Walls”.
Four more “relationship” songs were written by Malaya and her husband, including “Love Can Tell”; the romantic “Love Of Your Life”; “Kiss Your Troubles Away”, and my favorite, the Broadway styled rocker “Hot Love”. “I Can’t Be Loved” is from Malaya and pianist Sammie Ashforth who guests on the track.
This meticulously produced album features the evocative Malaya Blue in some stunning vocal performances. Look for Blue to receive a Blues Music Award nomination in the relatively new category of “Instrumentalist Vocal” at next year’s BMA’s.