Monday, November 7, 2011

Review of Melody Hill, by Jessica Bell

As I mentioned last week, I got Jessica Bell’s album, Melody Hill; On the Other side. I was excited about this project long before I heard the album. Part of my interest was because Jessica is such a delightful & supportive Blogger (find her at The Alliterative Allomorph), but I was especially intrigued that she released an album as a soundtrack to her book. As I said last week: How cool is that!?

One of my pet-peeves is when I ask someone about a band, and they say “They’re good.” Well, The Beatles are good, and Rage Against The Machine are good, so you really haven’t told me anything. I really enjoyed Melody Hill, and I will try to give a more detailed review than “it’s really good.”

Having said that, it’s a really good album, but I am having one problem with this. I enjoy this type of acoustic-based singer/songwriter music with female vocals, but it’s been years since I’ve listened to it, so please forgive me if my comparisons are somewhat dated.

This music could easily be played in the same concert with Jewel or Alanis Morisette (being a little more rock-based than the former). I should think that either would be pleased to open for Jessica Bell. It also reminds me a little of Sinead O’Conner’s first album, The Lion and The Cobra, if anyone remembers that. I believe that I’m also hearing a hint of Portishead in there. Her voice alternates from wine-glass-sweet to a rich purr, with an indefinable accent occasionally teasing its way through.

While the music on Melody Hill seems to have been written with a one-person-with-acoustic-guitar in mind, (see: coffee house), it has been beautifully augmented with keyboards, drums, bass, and tasteful electric guitar. Some songs are more introspective and slow, like “If You Were Me,” or the lullaby-like “Selfish Heartbreak.” Then, we’re treated to the more upbeat and expressive “Don’t Break Me,” or “Love is a Bitch of a Wine (Whine).” “Famous,” featured on her book trailer, is simply haunting, and I’ve had to return to her Blog to hear it again after it ran through my head all day before Melody Hill was available.

Much of the lyrics are filled with longing and conflict, and if I didn’t know that this was a soundtrack, I’d be concerned for the artist’s marriage. There is no shortage of clever lyrics, and it’s clear that Jessica is a diligent student of the craft. I really enjoyed the phrasing of “I wanna wake to see you, pleased to see me” in “Wash Me Away” The pause in the singing gave it a surprising quality that printed word wouldn’t allow.

My only problem with this album is the order of the first two songs. Melody Hill starts with a six-minute introspective that escalates towards the end, and the second is more of an up-beat rock song. Typically, an album starts with the song that the artist would start a concert with; a Here-we-are-let’s-go! song. I haven’t read the book yet, so I don’t know how this song-order serves the soundtrack function, but I would have reversed this order.

I’d really recommend Melody Hill: On the Other Side, and I look forward to listening to it as I write for NaNowriMo (I use the future tense because I’m posting this eight days into NaNo, so I’m writing this on Halloween). Don’t forget about the Amazon Rush on October 11.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group

I’ll bet that I’m not the first to use the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Blogfest to write about NaNoWriMo. The obvious concern is that I won’t finish, but if I park my arse in the chair for 25 days out of the thirty, that’s 25 days I haven’t written yet, and thousands of words that aren’t on the page yet. On the other hand, I’ve told several people that I’m doing this, so I certainly don’t want to go back to them with my tail between my legs.
But I also want to use this time to let you know that I won’t be around much. I’m sure that you understand that most of my extra minutes will be spent writing. I’ve been trying to get up early to have Bloffee time before Chickerdoodles gets up. I have a feeling that I won’t be too creative in my first minutes of the day, so NaNo-writing may not work. I may feel that getting inspiration from my Blogging Buddies will serve me better, but no promises. I’ll also be staying up late to write, so I could forfeit that early time.
There will be two exceptions to the November NaNo Blogging Sabbatical. This is the first (that I’m writing on Saturday), and the other is a review of a project that I think is just brilliant.
Many of you know Jessica Bell, of The Alliterative Allomorph fame. On November 11th, she will be releasing her book String Bridge on Amazon. On October 24, she released the album “Melody Hill; On the Other Side” as a soundtrack for the book. How cool is that!? Many artists I know have a “major” and a “minor;” like musicians who write, or sculptors who draw, but I haven’t heard of this before. On Oct 8th, I will be posting a review of this album, now available on ITunes.