Lightnin Malcolm: Rough Out There Review

Lightin Malcolm is the definition of a unique experience. While he was born in Missouri, Malcolm has been touring since his teen years, and his travels and experiences as a performer have brought him versatility and an original style that he isn’t afraid to showcase. Rough Out There is an eclectic medley of genres and influences, and while every song carries a breath of fresh air, each one seems as though it came from the same sky – the songs are so diverse, yet each one fits so perfectly to the record. While Malcolm may thrive on experimentation, incorporating tribal beats, Deep Blues Guitar grooves, syncopated rhythms, and songs with elements of almost every genre, from pop to country to reggae, they are able to do so because Lightin Malcom is a duo with the skills of an ensemble and the wide-eyed curiosity of a child lost in a candy store, a curiosity that hasn’t grown stale with age or experience.

Rough Out There opens up with the song “Workin,” a syncopated, catchy song backed by wailing, distorted guitar riffs and raspy vocals. The second track, “My Life’s a Wreck,” starts out with Malcolm repeating that line over and over, nailing that sentiment into the listener’s head. “Dellareesa” has a pop quality to it in the sense that it is very upbeat and catchy, accentuated with added instrumentals, like a horn section and rhythmic clapping. “Reality Check” has a much more serious tone, which is quite fitting for its lyrical content – “Walking alone on my journey / Singing my song, try not to worry / Just when I think I touch the sky / Same thing made you laugh, made you cry.” The tune contains musical elements from Reggae music and Deep Blues, such as offbeat musical accents. “So Much Trouble” is one of the darker tracks, with droning guitars and the line “so much trouble in the world today,” repeating over and over throughout. “Rough Out There,” which holds the album’s title, is another track with a great deal of pop elements, yet still holds tight to its blues undertones and overall influence. “Took Too Long” is a song that makes the listener want to tap his foot and bob his head – the guitar’s rhythmic quality and repetition throughout the track hold the song together and make it a groovy song well worth listening to.

The eighth track on the record, “Givin You Away” has an undeniable country influence, both musically and lyrically – “They say that love’s a gamble / For every loser, someone wins / Givin you away to him.” “Money” is a song that describes the devilish quality of that which owns the human soul; the world could not survive without it, and yet it destroys us while we barely manage. “Chiefs,” an instrumental track, has a Native American sound with powerful drums and lots of repetition, along with a guitar riff that sticks in your head like glue. “Young Woman, Old Fashioned Ways” starts out like any good blues song – a spoken introduction that’s leads into a full-fledged story. “Mama” is a very personal song clearly dedicated to his mother, and he gives it the honor of being the most important song on the record — “Out of all the songs that I wrote / This one just means the most / Because mama, this is your song.” “Stomp Yo Feet, Clap Yo Hands” is a fast-paced, rhythmic track for doing exactly what the title might portray – stomping your feet, clapping your hands, dancing, and having a good time. Finally, “How Blessed You Are” is, no doubt, an r&b/pop/hip-hop song, yet unlike many pop songs heard on the radio today, it has a beautiful message and it carries an optimistic outlook, ending the album on an upbeat note.

Rough Out There is a truly refreshing, unique compilation of genres, creativity, and style. The record takes the Deep Blues Guitar groove and shamelessly uses it in innovative ways unheard of by the typical blues record written and produced today. Rough Out There is well worth listening to if one is craving something original, tasteful, but also just good.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Dellareesa
– Reality Check
– Rough Out There
– Givin You Away
– How Blessed You Are

The Big Hit

– How Blessed You Are

Review by Jill Jacobs

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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