Friday, March 20, 2009

Reviews:: Melissa McClelland Victoria Day

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It really has to be said… Six Shooter records is starting off '09 with a bang (hi-yo!). First the lovely Jenn Grant record (review) and of course the non stop party that is the Shout Out Out Out Out (review), but it’s their latest release that has really found a home in my play list.

Melissa McClelland
’s Victoria Day is a wonderful slice of Canadian twang meets Dixieland blues but even with those two stabilizing foundations, she still manages to fuse in 50’s goodness, dreamy melodies, tender piano and surprisingly heavy guitar work. While that might sound like a lot (and admittedly, the horns that distract from the otherwise stellar When The Lights Went Out in Hogtown), McClelland’s voice and swagger power through and are as piercing as her big, beautiful eyes. That purity and power is why she's just as successful and enjoyable when she strips away any access and sings to you intimately.

On a glance, you might expect a steady diet of cutesy folk ditties to escape her mouth, but that demure image is quickly put to rest as the bluesy grit of the first single, Glen Rio, takes off. With clever wordplay – “faster than your sister gives it all away”, McClelland uses keep time percussion and heavy blues guitar and some slide to transport us back to a dirty bar in the Dustbowl or the Deep South and transform her persona into that of a bar room rebel. By the time the well placed harmonies kick in you are already hooked, nodding or stomping along uncontrollably.

She hits some unbelievable highs on Victoria Day. The honesty and gentle build of the soulful duet with Ron Sexsmith (Seasoned Lovers) is breathtaking, and the New Orleans dance party ready Victoria Day (May Flowers) is the type of song that you almost expect the people around you to break into Swing routines. The stripped down Brake is one of those narratives that instantly consumes you. That's the thing about Victoria Day I guess... Melissa's retro sounds seem so authentic that the record feels like a collection of songs you think you already know and love.

I’d be remiss not to mention how beneficial the deft touch of husband/producer Luke Doucet is to the strength of Victoria Day. He really beefs up the sounds at just the right times – like the rollicking electric work on Money Shot, but makes sure that any of the textures or emotions overpowers the effort. Even the heaviest is guitar on Money Shot is balanced by a country choir feel. Uptempo grit is paired nicely with slow waltzes (Cry On My Shoulder) getting the record crisp and exciting. With the spring finally starting to surface, these songs are going to be perfect for sunny drives or a back porch get together.

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Posted at 8:33 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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