Melanie

Melanie

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Melanie's second album was a fairly strong pop-flavored singer/songwriter effort, with more serious-minded material and execution than those familiar with only her best-known songs would expect. Although folk-rock is an element here, it's actually just one, combined as well with well-done pop orchestration, a certain sensibility akin to that heard in theatrical musicals, and even a little bit of white soul (particularly on the one non-original, "Soul Sister Annie"). She would have been well advised to concentrate more on her lower, more sensual register throughout her career, as she does on the generally fine and moving vocals on this LP. The New York theater factor comes into play on the darkly semi-comic "Any Guy" and "Take Me Home," and her more utopian sentiments arise in "Beautiful People." But really, this is far more gutsy than sappy, her earnest delivery containing some real grit. Even if her songs occasionally dovetail with childish sentiment, there's just as much earthy realism, as well as some vulnerable loneliness. Don't overlook this in the bargain bins just because of her half-justified reputation as a singer/songwriting lightweight; you might find yourself surprised at how worthy and affecting this early outing is.

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