Mal Blum raises the volume on new album 'Pity Boy'

“There are things still left to say/I’ve got phrases, I’ve got phrases,” sings New York singer/guitarist Mal Blum on “Things Still Left to Say,” the leadoff track on new album Pity Boy, released on Don Giovanni Records last month. Later in the song (and throughout the record), Blum makes good on that claim, delivering unadorned and clearly enunciated phrases that warrant repeated listens: “Should I explain myself? I’d rather read the dictionary! Why does everybody else feel closer to me than I can feel to them? Was my reticence always necessary?”

For Pity Boy, Blum ditched the acoustic folk sound that characterized the musician’s early career and dove headfirst into pop-pup punk, with electric guitars taking center stage and big drums propelling fist-pumping choruses.

Blum is prone to self-deprecation (“I even hate the way I breathe,” goes one line on “Black Coffee”), and on “See Me” they long for the simple act of being noticed: “Why can’t they see me when I’m right here?” Blum sings. But the songs also reveal someone who won’t be walked over. “It’s not my job to make you well,” Blum sings on “Not My Job,” and in context, voicing that dissent feels like an act of healing.

Make sure to arrive early to this concert: Counterfeit Madison, the musical outlet of Columbus treasure Sharon Udoh, opens the show. (Udoh also recently received a 2019 Artist Residency Award from the Wexner Center.) The next Counterfeit Madison record is also reportedly finished and awaiting release, and look for an Aretha Franklin tribute show at the Lincoln Theatre later this year.