The Sunday Gazette Review

Mallett, Raneri display craft at Egg

ALBANY – Singer-songwriters David Mallett and Rosanne Raneri both have gifts greater than their fame. Reclusive veteran Mallett is better known as writer than singer since many country stars sing his songs, and his visit to the Egg Saturday was only his second Albany gig in a 30-year career.

Mallett’s weathered baritone and superb guitar playing had much more time to ingratiate than Raneri and he wove his songs together in a loose narrative flow of autobiography rich in family and reminiscences of a career launched at 12. He looked backward a lot, and with rich sentiment leavened with the fatalism of those living close to the land as his farm-folk ancestors did.

An early pairing of “My Daddy’s Oldsmobile” and “My Old Man” sounded the dominant chords of his style, the former a lament for a homeless family living in a car, the latter a tribute to his own late father, enriched by a tender spoken introduction.

Perhaps best known as writer of “Inch By Inch,” a soft singalong, Mallett often echoed the cycles of nature. His liveliest tune talked of his rocky rural corner of Maine “Greening Up Real Good,” while others evoked harsh winters and a disastrous thunderstorm and fire. At his best, he put his listeners into his own cinematic memories.

The Mallett/Raneri show was the second of three in the Egg’s singer-songwriter series, which concludes next Saturday with Livingston Taylor and Valerie DeLaCruz.

- Michael Hochanadel, The Sunday Gazette