Carolyn Malachi - Lions, Fires, and Squares (2010)

Carolyn Malachi
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As the great granddaughter of the renowned, spirited jazz pianist, John Malachi, Carolyn Malachi proudly carries the family tradition by taking his legacy into the twenty-first century.  Her interest in music began as a child as an aspiring lyricist.  But it was a sound design class at Shepherd University in West Virginia where she first blossomed as an independent recording artist.  Gaining performance experience with her small ensemble consisting of talent from Shepherd U., she expanded her musical boundaries utilizing her first love of jazz with spoken word and hip-hop.  The group eventually disbanded after Malachi graduated, but she had already gathered enough lyrical content for her first two recordings: Revenge of the Smart Chicks, and the 2009 sequel, Revenge of the Smart Chicks II: Ambitious Gods.  Both of these self-released projects were inspired by her foundation, Smar

As the great granddaughter of the renowned, spirited jazz pianist, John Malachi, Carolyn Malachi proudly carries the family tradition by taking his legacy into the twenty-first century.  Her interest in music began as a child as an aspiring lyricist.  But it was a sound design class at Shepherd University in West Virginia where she first blossomed as an independent recording artist.  Gaining performance experience with her small ensemble consisting of talent from Shepherd U., she expanded her musical boundaries utilizing her first love of jazz with spoken word and hip-hop.  The group eventually disbanded after Malachi graduated, but she had already gathered enough lyrical content for her first two recordings: Revenge of the Smart Chicks, and the 2009 sequel, Revenge of the Smart Chicks II: Ambitious Gods.  Both of these self-released projects were inspired by her foundation, Smart Chicks, Inc., a non-profit organization empowering women in their roles as businesswomen, leaders and artists.

Already on her third disc in three years, Malachi releases Lions, Fires & Squares, an EP that translates her indescribable artistry into a lyrical and musical collage inspired by the sights and sounds of her recent trip to South Africa .  The title track opens with compelling sounds of the jungle, including the lion's mighty roar.  The musically ambitious "Orion" tells the offbeat love tale of a mermaid and astronaut, set to a subtle tribal soundtrack and African vocal inflections.  The African hip-hop/jazz layered "Textual" is a lyrically quirky and honest observation of text messaging while balancing a busy life:  "I want to tell you something...don't want to use my voice. I've got a machete pointed at my personal time."  Gentle African style guitar strums delivers a calming spirit on "Dumela," which teaches how to build one's confidence: "You must teach you eyes how to see again."

Where Lions, Fires & Squares excels are Malachi's mastery of spoken word and her phrasing, which make up for her average singing voice.  Lions, Fires & Squares could have done without the ill-advised deep house remix of "Textual" and South African rap star HHP's pedestrian solo on the original mix of the aforementioned.  Despite these oversights, Malachi proudly represents the independent musical spirit, an attribute her father would be extremely proud of. 

Vocals:  2.5 stars
Music:  3.0 stars
Lyrics:  3.0 stars
Production:  3.5 stars
SoulTracks Call: Recommended

By Peggy Oliver

 

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