PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

The Peter Malick Group: Chance and Circumstance

Jason MacNeil

The Peter Malick Group

Chance and Circumstance

Label: Label

Peter Malick is a blues guitarist who has played with and supported some of the best in the business. However, most people might recognize him more for a friendship and musical partnership he developed with a certain piano player named Norah Jones. Jones and Malick have performed together in the past and seem to complement each other quite well. So it should come as no surprise then that Jones and Malick appear together on six of the 14 tracks offered on Malick's latest album. There's also help from Malick's daughter Mercy and Jess Klein, who opens the album up with "Immigrant", a tune that is the polar opposite of a blues tune -- it reeks of Lilith Fair folk and seems a bit bland for the kicker. Later on she sings a "Midsize City Girl" that isn't so folk-oriented, but comes off more like an Emmylou B-side. The title track, featuring Kirsten Proffit, fares slightly better. The country folk style gives way to an up-tempo pop feel that flows swimmingly.

The first (and possibly the most) pretty tune is "Opium", with Kirsten Proffit mixing just a bit of folk in her moody and strong song-speak. Here, Malick's playing sets the song in motion with Proffit reaping the rewards. "You are the rock star, play me the soundtrack to my life", she sings as harmonies fade in and out behind her. If there's one negative to this song, it really does seem a bit aimless, going along without a care in the world. This is quickly forgotten, though, once the main attraction to the album, Jones, takes the next tune to a totally different level. "Strange Transmissions" is a slower and blues-based tune that her whispered and sexy vocals seem to carry throughout. The drum fills give way to her signature style that makes this song work, pure and simple! The adult contemporary blues-pop flavor is delivered in spades with Malick's moody and murky guitar up to the task. "Things You Don't Have to Do" is even more raunchy, with Malick and Jones trading off vocal duties in a vein Bonnie Raitt would be proud of. It's also one of the few songs that namedrops televangelist and man of a thousand comb-overs, Benny Hinn! Who knew?

Aside from Jones, Mercy Malick complements papa Malick to a tee. The Ray Charles cover of "What Would I Do?" is such a track, with the younger Malick towing the line between being very impressive and being a hot shot, octave-crazed diva. And she possesses that control that so few have or care to utilize. The elder Malick gives some of his best performances on this tune, especially with the bridge being his calling card. Jones returns again with her third contribution, "Deceptively Yours", a sexy blues number that she occasionally lets loose on. The song also gives her something to play with, namely Malick's great riffs and timing, allowing just enough space for the tune to catch its breath. "Into the City" starts off as a somber and off-kilter tune, but finds its footing quickly, making it a nice change of pace ditty.

The last three songs are possibly the best on the album, all courtesy of Norah Jones. And this time the songs tend to be more along the lines of her solo album. "Heart of Mine" could be off of Come Away with Me, a piano-driven slow dance romance tune that she takes into her vocal bosom. "Heart of mine, go back home / You got no reason to roam", she sings while the bass line mixes well with everything else. "All Your Love" doesn't work as well, far too steeped in the blues, with Jones forcing the issue at times just a fraction. Thankfully, the album reins itself back in with a gorgeous blues/jazz based tune in "New York City". It's a perfect ending to a surprisingly good record. It would be good without Jones, but with her inclusion it is terrific!

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.


The 20 Best Tom Petty Songs

With today's release of Tom Petty's Wildflowers & All the Rest (Deluxe Edition), we're revisiting Petty's 20 best songs.

Joshua M. Miller

The 11 Greatest Hits From "Greatest Hits" Compilations

It's one of the strangest pop microcosms in history: singles released exclusively from Greatest Hits compilations. We rounded 'em up and ranked 'em to find out what is truly the greatest Greatest Hit of all.


When Punk Got the Funk

As punks were looking for some potential pathways out of the cul-de-sacs of their limited soundscapes, they saw in funk a way to expand the punk palette without sacrificing either their ethos or idea(l)s.


20 Hits of the '80s You Might Not Have Known Are Covers

There were many hit cover versions in the '80s, some of well-known originals, and some that fans may be surprised are covers.


The Reign of Kindo Discuss Why We're Truly "Better Off Together"

The Reign of Kindo's Joseph Secchiaroli delves deep into their latest single and future plans, as well as how COVID-19 has affected not only the band but America as a whole.


Tommy Siegel's Comic 'I Hope This Helps' Pokes at Social Media Addiction

Jukebox the Ghost's Tommy Siegel discusses his "500 Comics in 500 Days" project, which is now a new book, I Hope This Helps.


Kimm Rogers' "Lie" Is an Unapologetically Political Tune (premiere)

San Diego's Kimm Rogers taps into frustration with truth-masking on "Lie". "What I found most frustrating was that no one would utter the word 'lie'."


50 Years Ago B.B. King's 'Indianola Mississippi Seeds' Retooled R&B

B.B. King's passion for bringing the blues to a wider audience is in full flower on the landmark album, Indianola Mississippi Seeds.


Filmmaker Marlon Riggs Knew That Silence = Death

In turning the camera on himself, even in his most vulnerable moments as a sick and dying man, filmmaker and activist Marlon Riggs demonstrated the futility of divorcing the personal from the political. These films are available now on OVID TV.


The Human Animal in Natural Labitat: A Brief Study of the Outcast

The secluded island trope in films such as Cast Away and television shows such as Lost gives culture a chance to examine and explain the human animal in pristine, lab like, habitat conditions. Here is what we discover about Homo sapiens.


Bad Wires Release a Monster of a Debut with 'Politics of Attraction'

Power trio Bad Wires' debut Politics of Attraction is a mix of punk attitude, 1990s New York City noise, and more than a dollop of metal.


'Waiting Out the Storm' with Jeremy Ivey

On Waiting Out the Storm, Jeremy Ivey apologizes for present society's destruction of the environment and wonders if racism still exists in the future and whether people still get high and have mental health issues.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.