Vigilantes of Love

To the Roof of the Sky

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To the Roof of the Sky, released independently in 1998, is full of homespun textures and country tinges: a dobro here, lap steel there. With a strong set of songs, leader Bill Malonee has fashioned what is arguably Vigilantes of Love's finest outing to date. Some songs rock ("But Not for Long" and the rollicking, Dylanesque "Opposite's True") and some are so mournful and quiet they create a certain stillness ("On the Verge"); mainly, Malonee keeps things at a pleasant midtempo. Struggles with nature are amplified and explored allegorically as the struggle with what Malonee later calls "the cloth of life." There is depth and maturity here and an almost stubborn faith; and only one nit to pick: printed lyrics would have been preferable to Malonee's liner notes. The recording was financed on Malonee's credit card and sold well by mail from his kitchen, but nothing about its quality belies its modest origin. This is an album to set alongside the best of Petty, Springsteen, and Mellencamp -- not bad company to keep.

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