Heather Maloney's first show was in a Northampton coffee shop in September 2009. She was so petrified about the prospect of playing her music in public that her friends had to physically push her onto the stage. Now Maloney has two records under her belt, including her 2011 release "Time and Pocket Change," and no longer has to be shoved on stage to open for artists from Jill Sobule to Caravan of Thieves to David Wax Museum. Her updated take on traditional singer-songwriter folk-pop amalgamates her melismatic, (intern Genevieve, who pennned this post, is clearly an English major at Mt. Holyoke. -Ed) limber vocals (in the vein of Feist or Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman) and poetic, identifiable lyrics with catchy, wandering acoustic guitar lines - it all adds together into a youthful, energetic, irresistible melange that'll speak to folk and even indie rock fans of all ilk.
Maloney's songs will lead you through myriad fascinating rhythmic and key change-ups, from ballads to rollicking anthems. Can't get enough Maloney? She headlines the Iron Horse on Thursday, December 15th, at 7PM, plays live on radio station WRSI’s Riversound Café with Joan Holliday at 5pm on Wednesday, December 14th. and she joins and handful of other locals in the Loretta Lynn Tribute at the Iron Horse on Sunday, January 15th. No stranger to the Iron Horse, Heather played the club in May, July, and October of this year already. -Genevieve Oliver
This past April, George Lenker of the Springfield Republican and MassLive asked Heather Maloney 5 Questions and we reprint them here, with thanks to the author and publication.
Speed dating is a concept where people spend a few minutes getting to know one another to see if anything clicks romantically.
Using that model, we hereby offer you an journalistic speed date, of sorts, with up-and-coming singer-songwriter Heather Maloney, who will play the Iron Horse Music Hall on Sunday. She answers five questions about herself and her music.
What got you interested in music?
I was raised with a record player instead of a TV thanks mom and I jumped on my bed to her records: The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Crosby Stills & Nash, etc. I was always in choirs and plays throughout school, and studied classical operatic vocals in school. I didn’t start writing my own songs until around 2008 or 2009.
Speaking of songwriting, how do you go about writing songs?
Every which way. It’s more of an intuitive thing at this point, so I just go with whatever comes first. I’d say that it’s mostly tunes first though. Melody comes easier to me than lyrics. I write pretty consistently. I find that if I don’t spend time writing I feel like something is missing.
What goes through your mind when you perform?
I aim to connect with the meaning of the song and embody the mood and state I was in when I originally wrote it. I’m very conscious of what I’m trying to say, and of what I’m doing with my voice to help say it. I am conscious of the audience for the most part, but it can go in and out.
(Heather with superb local guitarist Joe Boyle, above)
Give us a brief biography of yourself.
I was born and raised in North Jersey, and my parents also grew up in Jersey. My mother is a psychotherapist and she always encouraged me to be creative. I left Jersey, where I was majoring in music, because I felt strongly that I wanted to explore meditation, so lived and worked at Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Mass. for two and a half years. I moved to Turners Falls about a year and a half ago to work on music full time again. It is my aim to weave the values of meditation practice into my daily life as a working musician.
What do you listen for when listening to music?
I listen for quality musicianship, and as a singer, I guess I can be particular about vocals. I want to hear some heart and soul in there too. I am really turned off by music and lyrics that seem emotionally disconnected. I am really inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s take on creativity. In one of his “Letters to a Young Poet,” he suggests that an artist must go into themselves and ask very honestly if they need to write. I want to hear something that came from someone out of the necessity to create, not because they were trying to be cool or an amazing musician.
Tickets are available at Northampton Box Office,76 Main Street. 413-586-8686 and online at IHEG.com