The first time I saw Melissa Cameron sing was earlier this year when Bangs & Blush and one of Melissa's projects Brooklyn Price were both performing at the very first Heartstrings TV showcase at The Supermarket in Toronto; I remember watching her set blown away by her voice, confidence and over-all stage presence. Dating a musician who plays in multiple bands and who hangs out with mostly musicians has made me see that local musicians really pay attention to what their friends are doing and tend to support each other as much as possible, and because of this I've met multiple people who have either worked with Melissa or are friends of hers who swore by the girl's voice. As I grew more acquainted with her, I attended a few more events where she was involved and most of the time singing her own material. She told me "Back To Me" means that she wanted to get back to focussing on her own songs and her own individual project, making this her very first solo record. When I heard the record she's been working on within the last year (or even longer) was soon to be released, I couldn't wait to hear it; she hooked me up with a copy.
I took the cd out of the plastic and instantly my eyes were studying the beautiful cover (designed by Juliana Neufeld) for a pretty solid chunk of time; over time I've gathered that Melissa is a woman of grace, style and femininity, so the quirky, graphic yet delicate artwork seems like it suits her perfectly. But when it comes to musical style, I can't quite get her pegged. In most cases, you'd think this could be taken the wrong way, but with Melissa she embarks on many different musical routes from the beginning to end of Back To Me - and it works like gangbusters.
Instead of going the usual review-writing route I usually take, which involves me listening to the album and giving an over-all hum of what I think about the album as a whole, I decided to review each song individually, because Melissa only teased us with six songs on this record. Mind the point-form'esque blabbering about each tune, but I wrote all of them while at the time in the moment of listening to the song.
1. This Way
I hear Amy Winehouse-eqsue drums, extremely delicate vocals and harmonies blanketed by synth strings; this is a very good combo. Mid-way through the song, darker, ambient synths make an appearance, instantly giving it a bit of a different, harder edge. This is a strong way to open the album that effectively gives instant excitement for what's to come from the remainder of the album.
Sounds like an immediate power-house break-up song. Slow, but punchy drumming and an organ gives this song a spooky vibe. I immediately recall this song from seeing Melissa perform it live, and always remembered it as one of my favorites. It has one of my favorite song endings on the album as well.
3. Back To Me
This is the only tune on the album with a ska flare, and I love it; sound works well with Melissa's soulful voice but still maintains the signature ambient, ghostly technique with a touch of some awesome choices of synth sounds. Also one of the more catchy chorus lines.
Back To Me's fourth track has a very electronic, Sigur Ros/Bjork like production which proves yet again that Cameron's solid power-house voice can work it's way into singing along to songs of all styles. Again, I love the synth sounds on this track.
5. In The Cold
This song has a lot of punch and a lot of emotion; definitely the heaviest song on the album.
6. The Heartbreak
'Heartbreak finishes off the album with a forceful blow; this song is catchy as hell and puts Cameron up there to the likes of Adele both melodically and vocally and leaves a 60's-esque taste in your mouth, which I obviously love. Seeing Melissa perform this song, she has the whole room chanting "HEY HEY" back at her, and it seems she's found the perfect recipe for a hit song.
To put it simply, Melissa's team of musical partners including producers and musicians Adam King, Nate Kreiswirth, Ben Nudds, Dennis Passley and Eon Sinclair, and Cameron herself (being the ring leader of a project) came together to create a record well done. I believe there's something for everyone on this album, and that this is definitely just the beginning for Melissa. And how many artists can say first time's a charm?