HOPEWELL TWP. — “Thank you for your service” salutations don’t necessarily lead to job opportunities, a military veteran realizes in “Shades of Indigo,” the poignant title track to Bradley Scott Malone’s new release.
With his Afghanistan tour of duty finished, and post-traumatic stress lingering, the song’s protagonist returns home to his empty trailer with “no ticker-tape parade, just this letter and these pills from the VA.”
Hopewell Township singer-songwriter Malone loosely based the “Shades of Indigo” title track on an Iraq War veteran he knows.
Having himself served in U.S. Air Force toward the end of the Gulf War, Malone’s new five-song EP also includes “My Name Is Neville (Write It Down),” drawing from dialogue he heard visiting nursing home patients as part of a ministry in the 1980s.
“I want honesty and sincerity to come through in my music,” Malone, a recording artist on the Vault Records label, says. “These songs are reflections on my travels.”
The former West Virginian-turned-Beaver County-ite celebrates the release of “Shades of Indigo” with a performance Aug. 14 at Merchant Coffee in Ambridge.
Alone on stage, Malone will strum acoustic from noon-2 p.m., showcasing his resonant voice and richly detailed, slice-of-life lyrics.
“Freckles” recalls a 40-years-ago heartbreak like it just happened yesterday. You can practically hear the U-Haul’s tires slinging gravel, as his childhood sweetheart’s family pulls away to move to a new city.
“Well I followed as far as I could/But my pedals did no good/And the Pete Rose card in the spokes just tore away,” Malone wistfully sings.
“Shades of Indigo,” his second solo release, bears artistic influences like Jim Croce, John Prine, Don McLean and Gregory Alan Isakov.
While in the military, Malone was chosen for Tops In Blue, a traveling talent show that entertained the troops. By age 24, Malone’s vocal talents garnered interest from music industry executives.
Though his bio frankly chronicles how he got booted from Tops In Blue due to excessive drinking and chronic depression, and sank deeper into darkness when a possible major label deal fell through.
A downward spiral of dead-end jobs and living off relatives’ couches followed, until a spiritual awakening in 1997. Malone says on his website he hasn’t had an alcoholic drink since.
His story is one of triumph; a married father in his 50s, savoring a creative renaissance as a contemporary folk artist signed to Vault Records on Neville Island, where six-time Grammy Award winner Jimmy Hoyson is chief engineer.
Moving from Coraopolis to Hopewell in 2017, Malone has ingrained himself in the local music scene, regularly playing places like Altered Genius Brewing in Ambridge and the Black Dog Winery in Oakdale.
While visiting Merchant Coffee on June 27 to check out young singer-songwriter Tucker Muetzel, Malone met the owners of the year-old coffee shop. They agreed to host his EP release show.
He’ll be there this Saturday performing “Shades of Indigo” songs and other originals or covers.
A few of his new songs, including the fiddle and pedal steel flavored “My Name is Neville,” are critical of our country’s post-war response to veterans.
“I have encountered soldiers who were put in circumstances that would have put me in a rubber room, and yet they survived and managed to put their lives back together despite the discrimination and indifference they face coming back here,” Malone says on his website. “That compelled me to write about them.”