Athena (Malsick Musick)

Rick Malsick 

Athena
(Malsick Musick)

For those who have only heard Rick Malsick playing his acoustic guitar and singing in coffeehouses around town, this new CD is full of surprises from the get-go. Malsick has never sounded so electric as on track 3, "Money Dancer" — no trace of acoustic-ness here, just blues-rock with bendy sixth-string licks. Malsick's clever wordplay is still intact, though, as this bar tune boogies on about its pay-to-dance street character. And characters and their penchants populate his songs, one proclaiming "I Race a Canoe" over a walking-bass bounce. Those layered surprises are courtesy of Malsick on guitar, bass, keyboard and banjo, with co-producer Evan Smalley adding a list of keyboard, stringed instruments, woodwinds and drums. Malsick still features his adept fingerpicking on songs such as "Downstream Sunday," which goes right back to his lively coffeehouse gigging. The CD is bookended by songs to the deities Athena and Dionysus, the former with a good-time, up-tempo country-rock beat and the latter with a Tom Waits waltz.

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