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Indie Folk EP Review: "Shout That Whisper" by Blue Mallee

Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

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Blue Mallee’s Shout That Whisper combines his strong vocal talent with well-crafted lyrics and a musical background the adds energy, deeper expression and a heartfelt emotional life to the other sonic elements on the EP.

“Never Really Coming Back” starts as a gently strummed guitar and the yearning tremble of the harmonica move in. The guitar’s strumming has an easy glide and the harmonica has a plaintive quality. Blue Mallee’s voice carries the song’s lyrics with an expressive ache over a gruff sound that shifts. Now the drums throb in to drive the music forward, as Blue Mallee’s vocals grow stronger.

The whole song gains even power as the guitar’s strum takes on an edge and the drums shape the music. The harmonica calls out, carrying a melody of shifting shadow and hurting feeling over the drum’s throb. The vocals grow gentler again and the guitar smoothes out into whorls of sound as the song’s tale unfolds.

Our narrator talks about the song’s subject and reminds himself not to “let her fool you with twisted games” or allow the tide to turn while “swimming in the rain.” He further reminds himself that “she was never really coming back for you.”

The storyteller likens the song’s subject to a “secret agent” who “pulled the pin.” He talks about how she “deciphered a motivated language within” but now she’s busy pulling the relationship apart. He wonders if he really wants to hang out with someone who “rides my luck” and is a “passenger.” The narrator adds, “Set your sights on these moonlit seas tonight.”

Now our storyteller speaks of his broken heart and being “left openly sore.” He resents the way he’s become “a trophy on your wall.” He talks about how the people around them are “running from this sinking ship.” He admits that it’s likely better the way it worked out and adds that he won’t miss it.

The song ends as he reminds himself not to be fooled by her games and concludes, “Don't let a candle open your face to another feature.”

Wordless vocals chant in ethereal lines over a brightly strummed acoustic guitar before the growling tones of an electric guitar cut in to open “Horizon.” A rich, round toned electric guitar adds depth as it’s also strummed. This track is a simple pause for the ears, adding a moment for reflection before the next song.

Electric guitar shifts through lush chords and strums with a melancholy feeling as “Shout That Whisper” comes to life. Blue Mallee’s vocals are clean and full of feeling as the drums guide the music with an active throb. The vocals wander in an energetic melody, climbing as Blue Mallee imbues them with more emotion.

The song grows more intense as the guitar bursts out and the bass smoothly pulses, the drums hit harder as the vocals leap up. The song showcases Blue Mallee’s full, expressive vocals while the guitars and drums have a relaxed quality. There’s a rising sense of energy as the guitars leap in once more and the drums and bass move the song forward.

Resonant, shining notes drift out into the background and the song moves back to Blue Mallee’s emotive voice and the strummed guitar. There’s a drum fill and the song accelerates, the energy level growing again. The vocals soar up before the guitar descends in broad, drifting notes and the song ends.

Our narrator talks about the way in which “the scenery connects” in the “uncluttered beauty of a stormy sky.” He talks about lingering memories as “the sanctuaries are splintered” and adds that he “won’t let this opportunity pass me by.”

The narrator is left with “stormy skies and plenty of wondering why’s” as he sits “awaiting to be advised.” He wonders when the clocks will turn as he waits for “that knock at the door.” The ominous image of pulling a trigger is followed by a musing that “skies don’t mirror ‘cause it gets too shady on a moonless night.”

Our storyteller talks about slipping being made easy and adds, “shout that whisper, don’t you linger.” He addresses another person and talks about finding them “in a cave, torn by the sea.” He continues by pointing out that “people are harsh like stones” but some of them have discretion. The storyteller talks about a lonely walk on a deserted beach.

As the song winds down, the narrator ultimately offers the advice to let the ocean be your road “to guide you to higher peaks.”

“Go!” commences as a metallic sounding acoustic guitar strums along with a smooth tick of drums. The electric guitar jangles in over a richly woven chord background and the drums move in quick pulses under the strumming as Blue Mallee’s voice leaps out and soars, lifting over the energetic drums and tambourine.

The drums burst in, fade and burst in again as the electric guitar shines and sings over Blue Mallee’s strong vocals. There’s a purity to the song as the guitar cascades through. Synthesized trumpeting notes flow in as the vocals return. A strummed, glowing guitar sings out and the full, trumpeting sound comes back in. Once again, the emotive vocals soar out and the song fades into silence

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This is a song about reaching out for your full potential and not letting mundane obstacles get in the way. The narrator talks about working a dead end job when a woman comes in, asking for directions.

In the next line, she talks about seeing him “every morning, looking so sad.” In an inspirational moment she tells him, “Don’t you know if you explode you can blow them away in the morning, in the evening time.”

Like a muse, she reminds him that there’s “music…in your blood and poetry in your soul” and that with those qualities, he has no time to waste and that he should just “go!”

A warm pulse of flowing sound sliding under the strumming guitar and the plaintive breath of the harmonica as “Rocks and Cattle” begins . Blue Mallee’s voice is strong and there’s a bluesy feeling to his singing. A trumpet breathes into the song with a caressing, brassy sound as Blue Mallee’s vocals climb and soar.

The song has an acoustic warmth to it along with a feeling of brimming energy and deep emotive strength. The drums tick along with a smooth heartbeat as the trumpet raises its embracing voice. The harmonica bends and gives voice to a reedy flow of expressive notes before the song fades out.

Twin themes of the isolation of the Australian outback and the vagaries of human relationships fill the words of this song. The song starts with the narrator saying, “Work the land and grow. It'll pay you back.” It is a message both about farming and also about working on relationships.

The next line of the song talks about someone who people said was “just like a dry river bed, faded pages, numbers dated, not worth the slack.” There’s a sense of relief in the words, “It'll come again: mellow sun, heavy clouds, and a box of prayers.”

The complexity of a friendship comes through as the narrator talks about someone whose friendship was like a road of “dotted lines in the ones” and talks of a “blink” of cares. He says that he could have been what this friend needed like an “unstoppable storm, unleashing its rain.”

Fire shapes the Outback and when it comes to people we all know that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Both could be referenced as our narrator asks “Will we let our fences down?” He goes on to ask “Could we deal with it now?”

There’s a feeling of uncertainty and ambivalence in the lines, “Guess guessing's all we got for now, but I sure won't be putting your fires out no more.”

A profound sense of the harsh beauty of the land is clear in the lines that ask “O' ghost gum have you seen the desert blood oak basking in the sun? Have you been amongst the rocks and cattle when the day is nearly done?”

Echoing strings move to establish a gentle pulse below Blue Mallee’s delicate, expressive voice as "Take Me Somewhere Into the Wind" comes to life. He expresses the words he’s written with emotion, over the drifting guitar.

This is a simple, stripped down arrangement that showcases the lyrical content of the song. There’s an aching feel to both Blue Mallee’s voice and the musical backing. The harmonica comes in to add its full, reedy voice that is poignant in the way only a harmonica can be.

This is a song full of strong imagery and well-crafted words that tells a story of friendship. As it begins, the narrator talks about being taken “somewhere into the wind” as a “page turns” inside his mind.

Sometimes words ruin the moment as he explains in the line, “button your lips - your words are ramblin’” and points out that they only just arrived.

I am drawn to the imagery in the line that talks about the wind and “breathing it out, ebbing your ends.” Our narrator asks if the tide will move again and be his friend because “we only just got here.”

He speaks of spending “wasteful years-unbelieving” and as he was sidetracked his “cool breath - heaving.” I enjoy the imagery of the stars as they “fracture black sky” and the evocative idea of something outdated like “some cheesy, fungus type of mould.”

There’s energy and motion in the line that talks about the song’s subject as being like a “curling super jet chasing its tail.” He compares them to being like “an unpolished song” and urges them to “drop your opinions and take me somewhere into the wind, slowly turning again.”

© 2022 Karl Magi

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