Review: Lightnin' Malcolm - Renegade

Lightning didn't strike once, let alone twice on 'Renegade.'
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Lightnin' Malcolm - RenegadeRenegade is proof that minimalist tendencies and a stripped-down approach aren't inherently better than elaborate and ambitious constructions, Minimalism minus ideas leads to tedium, boredom, or forgettable music.

Many of the tracks on Renegade establish their primary riff and rhythm quickly and that's where they remain until the song ends. Fortunately, most of these songs are in the four-minute range so the droning doesn't go on forever but that's small comfort. The songs lack choruses, hooks, refrains, builds, and dynamics. Do that 13 times and you're going to wear your audience out unless there's something special happening in the lyrics or playing. There isn't.

Take the title track, a 3:30 minute instrumental with no discernable melody. Now there are a lot of guitarists who can jam an instrumental with no melody and make it almost interesting with a dizzying flurry of notes played at twice the speed of light. That's not what we get here. It's a plodding, monotonous track that goes nowhere.

The vocal tracks aren't served much better because while LM is not a bad singer, there's nothing particularly special about his voice and each song is sung more or less the same as what you heard the song before. 

"Last Night I Held An Angel" is probably supposed to be a love ballad; a song dedicated to love come and gone, a song about something special but there's nothing in the music or vocal that pack the power of the promise the title holds. It's an overused lyrical allusion but love and women have been compared to everything under the sun. The device is tired but a little passion in the performance can elevate the usual and make it unique. 

"Precious Jewel" percolates with a bit of a ska-reggae beat and influence but even with a new beat, the song remains the same. The guitar doesn't change, the vocals don't get any better, the lyrics are predictable, and it never catches fire.

It's hard for me to say these harsh things because Lightnin' Malcolm has done some good work with Cedric Burnside but there is no magic, no feeling to be found on Renegade. It all adds up to not much ado about much of anything.