Friday, December 31, 2010

Kat's Korner: Mystic Melanie

Kat: "There's an angel, watching over you, There's an angel watching over you, In the daytime and in the nighttime too, there's an angel watching over you." So opens Melanie's brand new album is Ever Since You Never Heard of Me -- a thirteen track offering that's sure-footed, confident and alive.

Ever Since You Never Heard Of Me

The siren and the sage of the Woodstock festival has been on a career revival of late -- one that probably kicked off in 2007 at the Meltdown Festival and includes the raves and word of mouth for her 2009 tour -- and this latest release will only continue to remind the world that a major talent is doing some serious explorations.

It also underscore how sexism continues to reign as you realize Van Morrison can be a "mystic" but so many critics actively seek out terms to dismiss Melanie with. She's just as much a mystic and seer and, these days, even more so. "Loka Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu" she chants on "Motherhood Of Love" -- a song inspired by the Hindu guru and the "hugging saint" Mata Amritanandamayi. Mysticism and wisdom populate the album: "destiny lies in the fools who refuse to give up on the dreams" and "reason to the heart is a message undelivered" being only two examples. And her creed is outlined in the song she and her son Beau Jarred Schekeryk wrote, "Smile," whose refrain is "I love people who smile, If everybody smiles, we'll have a hometown all over the world." The song first appeared on her 2002 album Crazy Love and it's since become one of the anthems [like her "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," "Peace Will Come (According To Plan)" and "Ring the Living Bell"]. This one's a toe-tapper and highly infectious.

And Melanie? She's a rock and roll survivor.

I tried to die young
Boy, did I try
But the voice deep in side
would not let me succumb
And I laughed at the things that I'd done
When I tried to die young

But she survived and lived to share on this final album featuring Peter Schekeryk with a production credit. Longtime collaborators and spouses, Melanie and Peter got together before Woodstock, had a family and saw the world. But he passed away this fall from a heart attack. And for many listeners, that probably adds another level to an already rich and textured album.

Death's not a topic a mystic can avoid and it winds in and out of the thirteen songs. "Working Legend," for example, has been reworked as a tribute to Johnny Cash. And there's "Life Without You" whose lyrics include, "I've read all those books on letting go, You're on every page it seems, But in sleep you're the place I go, Why do they call them dreams?"

This is such a brave album, a real treasure that can let you rock out ("My Surprise") or let you get lost in the harmonies. Chief among the latter is "Hush-a-bye:"

And after all the fighting's done
Life will take over
No one will have won
And when this world's gone on too long
Life will take over

This album is a real joy and one of the unexpected treasures of 2010. You can purchase the CD at Melanie's concerts, the download is at Cyrpress Rosewood and an early, working version of the album can also be downloaded at Amazon (this is not the completed album available at Cypress Rosewood).