It ought to come as no surprise to those who have followed his prodigious career over the course of the past several decades that Bill Mallonee is the very definition of an industrious entrepreneur. Beginning with his initial efforts at the helm of the Georgia-based band the Vigilantes of Love, he’s made it his mission to release new records with such dazzling regularity that he’s often offering several at the same time, and usually multiple offerings all at the same time. Suffice it to say, Mallonee is one fastidious individual and his output alone qualifies him as one of the most creative and industrious artists currently inhabiting our Americana environs.
Still, releasing new music is one thing, but having it exceed with such consistent quality is quite another. After nearly 80 albums of his own making — not counting those recorded with wife Muriah Rose and his early efforts of the Vigilantes variety — he manages to still meet the high bar he set so early on. As informed by his deeply held spiritual beliefs and the steely eyed determination that’s found him navigating his musical environs with such unfettered devotion, his songs are rich and resolute, sometimes weary but never deep with despair.
Not surprisingly then, his new album, Forest Full of Wolves, is no exception. While the central theme revolves around the need to persevere even when the darkness closes in, its rugged revolve borders on the same sort of insurgency that Tom Petty once pursued with his own dogged delivery. Indeed, on songs such as “Face in the Clock,” “Before the Darkness Settles In” and “Changing of the Guard,” the ominous overtones are circumvented by Mallonee’s relentless ramble and the sense that no matter what obstacles may lie in his way, he will still muster whatever resources he needs to make his mission complete.
“Baby, how’d we get this far?” he asks on the tellingly titled “Love Is Always Risky Currency.” “Not a snowball’s chance in hell/Love is always risky currency/And hearts are the hardest sell.” Fortunately, Mallonee’s always willing to lay his on the line, allowing his listeners to reap the rewards.