STORY WRITTEN BY ROB NAGY
For Digital First Media
Out of New England emerges singer songwriter Heather Maloney, a seductively hypnotic vocalist whose poetic delivery will leave you breathless and clamoring for more.
On the heels of her critically acclaimed “Making Me Break” album in 2015, Maloney is on the road, test-driving material for her impending follow-up album release, giving live audiences the opportunity to select songs that will make the final cuts.
“The current tour, which we call ‘ProjecTour,’ is essentially a live presentation of all of my newest material at which the audience votes which song stuck with them and wants me to record on the next record,” says Maloney, from her home in Northampton, Mass. “My show is a glimpse at the songs for the record I am getting ready to record.”
“Most of the ProjecTour shows are duo shows,” adds Maloney. “I put together a show with an incredible guitarist named Ryan Hommel. My first few shows of doing this, I had a number of people pretty flatteringly write all of the songs on the ballot. There are ballot slips, by the way. They get three votes for the top three. For the most part, people follow the guidelines. It’s been very enlightening to collect the data on what people are responding to and I’ve been surprised by what people choose. Songs that I maybe have stronger feelings for might not resonate as much outside of me. It’s been fun for me to get inside of people’s minds a little more from the audience.”
Raised in Hamburg, N.J., Maloney was a student of classical operatic singing, improvisational jazz vocals and music theory. Exposed to the Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Bob Dylan, courtesy of her parent’s record collection; Maloney absorbed the classic songwriting and vocal performances of modern music. Fiona Apple, Alanis Morrisette, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, and Mariah Carey ultimately made it onto her play list of inspirations.
“I love the music my parents enjoyed growing up,” says Maloney. “Not only for the quality but the overall message, or at least, the emphasis on the message. One thing about my generation I’ve always been pretty bothered by is that music exists but it’s not the mainstream. I think there’s a real big thing missing there, although I think that is changing. I am feeling more excited and energized about what I’m hearing from people my age in music. People are really becoming active about what’s happening in the country and the world and more aware and that’s exciting to me. I think people are starting to release music that reflects that.”
During the latter part of the 2000’s Maloney worked and resided at a silent meditation retreat center in Massachusetts. It was here that her self- imposed silence and personal reflection found her expressing herself through songwriting.
“I think if I kept track of when the most music comes to me it would probably be in the winter,” says Maloney. “I do most of my writing when I’m in a quiet space and a little bit more on the introspective side of life. I definitely have my own theory about what winter does to a person. There has to be some value of being shut in by weather. For me I know it contributes to me being a little more introspective. I tend to read more and I tend to find things that uplift me and entertain me and for me, that’s playing and writing.”
The release of her “Making Me Break” album in 2015, which included appearances by Band of Horses (Bill Reynolds, Tyler Ramsey), The Wallflowers, My Morning Jacket and Darlingside, garnered rave reviews from The Huffington Post, Consequences of Sound and No Depression as well as SPIN Magazine’s “Artist to Watch.” The albums final track, “Nightstand Drawer” brought Maloney national attention when it was used in the TV series “Elementary.”
Prior to performing her own headlining concert tours, Maloney had worked as an opening act for Lake Street Dive, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Gary Clark Jr., Mary Chapin Carpenter and Colin Hay.
Collaborating with Boston based quartet Darlingside in 2014 on the Woodstock EP, a tribute to the Joni Mitchell song that Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young made a classic. Graham Nash praised Maloney’s rendition and was quoted as saying, “Delicious, really excellent.”
“There’s good reason to keep track of where your career is at, and the business side of things — that’s truly important,” says Maloney. “This business is so fickle and unpredictable. If I make plans to have a certain level of success, I think I might be met with a lot of disappointment. I’m really grateful for where I am at this point.”