Monday, June 29, 2009

Melanie Chisholm: This Time (2007)

Melanie Chisholm, one fifth of the former pop band The Spice Girls, has released her fourth album entitled This Time (2007). The European launch of her album coincided with the Spice Girls’ Reunion tour, which offered Chisholm the opportunity to promote her solo work in small venues across North America. Perhaps the strongest vocalist of the former pop group, and one of the only girls to solely devote herself to performing, Chisholm “took [her] own destiny, in [her] own hands” in 2004 and created Red Girl Records, and launched her sophomore album, Beautiful Intentions (2005). Her last two albums showcased her true self due to the freedom of having her own label. This Time will hit shelves in North America on April 8th, 2008.

Those who have always enjoyed Chisholm’s unique sound will no doubt enjoy this fourth album and for those who are die-hard Sporty fans, Mel C said, “Sporty is such a big part of me. There’s a little bit of her in everything I do,” during an interview at MTV Canada. The album’s first single ‘Carolyna’ deals with the serious topic of a girl running away and with lyrics such as “Carolyna you travel so far…Trying to escape the pain, start again where you are…” how could one not sympathize with Carolyna? The song’s dark nature is lightened by its soft-upbeat delivery which gives it a catchy edginess. ‘This Time’, ‘Understand’, and ‘What if I Stay’ happen to be some of the best songs for their storyline on the album, and Chisholm’s personal favourites.

The album introduces songs of a vast variety. “The Moment You Believe” is a song that deals about new beginnings in a relationship, and the difficulties one might face and how a couple’s strength can overcome what others may believe. “May Your Heart” brightens the album with its light hearted instrumentations: a mixture of guitars and soft drums. There is even a cover of The Strangeloves’ 1965 hit “I Want Candy” as a bonus track.

The album also showcases Mel C’s incredible vocals. The range she possesses is absolutely amazing and breathtaking, unlike most of the “very popular” artists nowadays who need the help of synthesizers to make a #1 hit. She has been gifted with a voice that one can recognize immediately once they know who the voice belongs to – like Madonna, who happens to be her idol. Not only does she possess a beautiful in-studio recording voice, but her live performances simply bring back hope in “live” performances, which in this day and age have become “lipsyncing” performances.

In an industry where literally every track is tainted by synthetic effects and computerized vocals the album as a whole may lack musical ‘oomph’ but it suits the style Chisholm has attributed to herself. If there are synthetic instruments or effects on the album, it is barely noticeable. The soft-rock appeal promotes her vocals and offers a great opportunity for acoustic versions; a conscious decision on Chisholm’s behalf due to her preference for small venues. In doing so, not only are her powerful vocals prominent but the lyrics are too. This Time, like her previous albums, is full of beautiful storylines and incredible woven lyrics.

As stated on several occasions she refuses to adapt to the every growing trendy pop market in order to sell records. This album showcases Chisholm’s love for the MOR, middle-of-the-road, rock genre which isn’t too edgy or too soft – a perfect balance of both. While MOR is a genre just like mainstream, the recordings classified under the MOR genre don’t all sound the same. There isn’t one specific mold for a multitude of artists; the independent recordings offer exactly that, independence, no mold is duplicated, and every artist is unique. It is painfully obvious by her willingness to produce songs that aren’t up to the ‘norm’, that Chisholm is not preoccupied with record sales and is clearly recording music for the pure love of doing so. This Time will be one of the hidden gems of 2008, and a hit amongst music listeners who are tired of mainstream music.

Favourite Track(s): Immune

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