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Preview: Michelle Malone’s high-octane “Day 2” represents a return to her Atlanta roots

Malone's last album garnered two Grammy nominations.
Michelle Malone’s last album garnered two Grammy nominations.

Michelle Malone’s return to Eddie’s Attic on Saturday night, for shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m., represents more than coming back to her favorite venue and a release party for her new CD. It marks a true homecoming.

Malone, a Decatur native who was mentored by the Indigo Girls, has just moved back to the ATL after living in Decatur, Alabama, for eight years. Her partner has opened Trish Land, a home and garden décor shop in downtown Duluth.

“I’m elated to be back in Atlanta,” Malone says. “I felt the pull back to my roots, to where I was born and grew up, and to be around people who have the same memories that I do.”

Her new record, “Day 2,” reflects the return. It was recorded in Atlanta and co-produced by Shawn Mullins, the noted folk-rock artist who shares her strong roots in Eddie’s Attic. “I chose to name the new record ‘Day 2’ because it feels like a new beginning, a whole new chapter,” she says.

As a performer, Malone can raise a sweat with a full-tilt, Stones-flavored blues fueled by her searing slide guitar. At the heart of her music, however, is a songwriter who is still exploring and digging deeper into her craft. There are songs about the loss of a parent and the struggle to adapt to the modern world, and laments about time wasted on bad career decisions and relationships.

“Writing helps me understand myself and the world around me,” she says. “It helps me work through emotional confusion. I think writing about my father cracked my heart wide open. It’s enabled me to become a more open-hearted writer.”

“Day 2” is stocked with high-octane songs powered by her slide guitar. Rolling Stones pianist and music director Chuck Leavell lends a solo on the lusty blues-rocker “Chicken Lickin’ Good” and also plays on two other tracks.

“Although it doesn’t really sound different from my previous work, it feels different,” Malone says. “I just feel so much more open and relaxed than I ever have before.”

“Day 2” is her 11th studio album, produced by Mullins and Gerry Hansen. Her last record, “Debris” in 2009, was Grammy Award-nominated in two categories, Best Contemporary Blues Album and Best Americana Record, where it shared the ballot with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson.

She says this is the record where all her musical influences converge: blues, gospel, rock ‘n’ roll, country and folk. “My sound has evolved into a blend of all the ‘70’s music I grew up on: Linda Ronstadt, the Stones, Bonnie Raitt,” she says. She also absorbed her mother’s music collection, especially Billie Holiday and Mavis Staples. “She had a beautifully extensive record collection that I ran off with when I left home at 16. She still gives me a hard time about that.”

Malone says “Day 2” represents who she is and where she is in her life. “This record is very me; I’ve become really good at being me,” she laughs. “I love to write, record and play music. That’s all I’ve ever done and, hopefully, all I’ll ever have to do.”

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