Melanie Horsnell
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Melanie Horsnell

Candelo NSW 2550, Australia | Established. Jan 01, 2000 | SELF

Candelo NSW 2550, Australia | SELF
Established on Jan, 2000
Solo Folk Acoustic

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""The Cloud Appreciation Society" Album Review by Bernard Zuel"

Melanie Horsnell
THE CLOUD APPRECIATION SOCIETY
(MGM)
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This album's title is not accidental: it's a promise of a softly lit afternoon in the company of Melanie Horsnell, a promise soon fulfilled. With a voice of the utmost delicateness, what seems to be nothing but acoustic guitar (though bass, electric guitar and cello are in there) and tempos set at gentle, this is very much in the mould of Melbourne's Laura Jean or London's Vashti Bunyan. Imagine that Horsnell takes your hand in hers, smiles at you to let you know it's going to be OK, and takes you for a walk through a suburban garden that is neat but not fastidious. Once you get to a patch of lawn, she lays you down and together you watch the play of clouds on the blue sky, forgetting the time.

BERNARD ZUEL - Sydney Morning Herald


""The Cloud Appreciation Society" Album Review by Timber and Steel"

Melanie Horsnell opens her third album, “The Cloud Appreciation Society”, with a delightful, sweet Gershwin cover, “Oh So Nice,” inspired by the birth of her second child, Gypsy. Although Horsnell confesses to crying the first time she heard it, alone in the car, its presence on the album is far from miserable – quite the opposite, in fact. Its childlike enthusiasm and tempo sets the tone for what appears to be a very relaxed and comfortable listening experience, the kind of album that one might associate with young love and summer dresses. Most of the album is built around this sound; Subtle acoustic guitars and bass, vulnerable vocals, cello, soft and sparse drums and the occasional instance of a glockenspiel.

However, just three tracks in, after the brilliantly poppy “Uncoordinated Conversation” (a lovely track about the awkwardness of new romance), there is a more complex and somewhat darker sentiment. Disguised by Melanie’s undeniably gentle voice, comes the reflections of a woman torn apart by the grief and loss of abandonment, in “Love You Madly”- A song rich in sorrow and heart-breaking images, a song that describes complete surrender. The words “I will love you madly” reach out and pull on your stomach in a way so familiar to anyone who has ever endured a significant separation, drawing the listener under her light sound, into her fierce lyrics. This track, followed by the equally sad and desperate “If We Can’t be Together,” leads the album far from the listener’s prior expectation, on a much more poignant journey.

While the delivery and instrumentation is not vastly different throughout, it is the seamless transition into these darker tones that strikes me most about this record. One can identify so strongly with the angst and imagery, and yet it sounds so calm, the melody crisp, with a lilting cello carrying the song forward. It is the sparse and gentle instrumentation, coupled with Horsnell’s clean vocal that could lead to some of this album’s depth being miscalculated, which makes her eye for detail and rich imagery so important. Her ability to capture her landscape, both literal and emotional is one of the things that makes this album stand out fully, within a well-explored genre.

This detail is particularly strong in “Tall Trees Arms”, wherein Melanie writes from the perspective of an older man, staring out at his rugged mountain home after the death of his wife with the “grey-green eyes.” One can almost feel the “frosty air,” almost hear his soft journey, among lonely valleys, green foothills and trilling creeks. Similarly, in “Late Afternoons and Ochre Walls” the “dappled light,” in which a young couple cuddle on the couch quietly, that Melanie describes is as easy to imagine here as the “big dolly eyes and cheeky smiles” of her two babies in “My Harmony, My Gypsy”, a song written out of pure adoration for her girls, in a very difficult time for her.

While similar in sound to many of her female contemporaries, “The Cloud Appreciation Society” has a very strong narrative to it, something Horsnell herself touched on in an interview with ABC southeast. The progression of the songs mimics the progression of her life at the time, starting with the joy of the birth of a new child, and moving to a new home in country NSW, to the pain of her separation. The mid-section of the album speaks of the potential for finding new love, bonding with her children and immersing herself in her new surrounds. This leads to the final track “My Heart just Wants to Fall in Love”, a joyful song about letting go of past grievances and moving on, which brings the album full circle, back to the quirky happiness of “Oh So Nice,” the sound that originally attracted my attention so quickly. I really enjoyed this album, short though it may be, and I look forward to the chance to see her live in the future.
- Timber and steel


""The Cloud Appreciaion Society" Album Review by The Australian"

MELANIE Horsnell has an eye - and an ear - for where things belong.

That can be the only explanation for the fact it's the final track on her delightful third album, The Cloud Appreciation Society, that sums up everything about this former Sydney singer-songwriter's clear-spirited approach to her music.

The album closer, My Heart Just Wants to Fall in Love, turns out to be one of the first songs Horsnell wrote after moving to the tiny inland village of Candelo, in far southeastern NSW near the Victorian border, from Sydney's inner west rock 'n' roll heartland.

"I keep telling it no but it won't listen, just like a child who runs out on the road," she sings sweetly, sparkling melody soaring on a simple double bass accompaniment. "Cars flying past, I'm so worried, don't hurt it but what to do, it knows I'm a fool, I trust everything, but is that so bad?" No, it's no bad thing at all, Melanie.
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A large part of Horsnell's appeal is in her simplicity and directness; that, and her love of a fine tune. She begins the album with the Gershwin standard Oh So Nice and the vibe of the whole thing is immediately established. There are deeply sad moments, such as the wrenching If We Can't Be Together, but there is also sunny beauty in songs such as My Harmony, My Gypsy, written for her two young daughters.

Black Mountains evokes the towering landforms that ring the valley of which Candelo sits at the centre, and through which one must travel to find the coastal release of Tathra, or even historic Twofold Bay farther south.

Horsnell is a songwriting gem, shining light on everyday life with gentle accuracy; the fact this album was produced by the tremendous Paul Greene is a bonus.

LABEL: Inflatable Girlfriend Records
RATING: 3.5 stars - The Australian


""The Adventures Of..." Review"

Horsnell's varied effort intrigues and delights
Thank God she's not another Missy Higgins. Melanie sounds at times like Sixpence None The Richer, but with some cool analogue fuzz gadgets and more varied arrangements. And she's quite soulfull, even amidst the quirkiness and fanfare that occupies half the album. Birds (as heard on triple j) is the most adventurous track with a few key changes. On a few quirky moments, like I Just Want Some Love, Melanie bounces along to circus-y clarinet and tuba like Angie Hart down Kelly St. But the quiet and deeply personal songs, like the mellow Beautiful Excuse, are where she is most at home. This rainy-Sunday- afternoon-pop album is full of familiar melodies with simple words straight from someone's diary, supported (if not distracted) by ambitious Beatlesesque arrangements. Melanie sounds very familiar, in a good way. You know, when you can't quite figure out who it is, so you keep listening - RAVE MAGAZINE 22/11/05


""The Adventures Of..." Review"

Melanie Horsnell is one of the strange breed of Australians who are more successful overseas than at home. Her first full length album, The Adventures Of..., was released in Europe before it appeared in her home country. It’s a disc worth waiting for. Horsnell started playing classical guitar as a child, and was already playing in public at ten years old. However it wasn’t until she spent a year in London, writing songs and busking for a living every day, that she decided to pursue a serious career in music. The Adventures Of..., produced by Garth Porter, showcases some of the best of Horsnell’s tunes. It’s a raw, simple recording which belies the complexity of some of the numbers. She sings about everyday life, love, hate, infatuation and working in a supermarket checkout. It’s a deeply mellow and blues-inspired series of songs, probably not one to listen to if you’re already a bit melancholy. But if you like to bask in the human condition, enjoy a good tune and well crafted lyrics, this album has ticks in all the right boxes. Jodie van de Wetering - ABC.NET.AU (17/10/04)


"Melanie Horsnell Live at the Basement"

A cool, dry spring evening in Sydney brought with it the promise of something new, something fresh and newly alive. Down at The Basement in Circular Quay singer-songwriter Melanie Hornsell was about to deliver on this promise with a gig to promote the launch of her new album The Adventures Of…
A very groovy and unassuming Melanie Horsnell finally took the stage to face a good-sized crowd for a Tuesday night. Quickly joining her on stage was her band, The Inflatable Girlfriends, an odd assortment of musicians who throughout the night added a bit of their own flavour to Melanie’s café-styled songs.Every song tells a story, mostly from Melanie’s own life and Kiss You Again came from a time when Melanie worked in a supermarket as a teenager and had a crush on a guy who worked there. This sense of nostalgia fuels her sweet melodies as the swirl of Clayton’s Hammond seems to act as the good to every bad, the right to every wrong.
Even the cranky Beautiful Excuse was brimming musically with such lightness that off-set lyrics like “I'm not desperate, I don't crave you / I don't need your damn affection”.
Melanie still seemed to be twinged by nerves four or five songs in but once she was singing found safe and comfortable ground. Tomorrow kicked off with a real funky bassline before Melanie took out a small measure of revenge on the male species when during Pink High Heels bass player Josh, who had backing vocal duties for the night, and had to sing “I got my pink high heels on baby”.
There is a lonely girl playing her acoustic guitar at the heart of all Melanie’s songs but there is no doubt tonight with the band behind her, her music is given another dimension with Iain on drums, Clayton on the Hammond, Josh on bass and Adam on electric guitar.
The stories Melanie sings about in Mr Accidental, Sometimes and Deep Blue Sea are about someone wanting, and someone who wants to be wanted - sometimes nervy, sometimes angry, even a little neurotic but always honest with a certain fragile and naïve beauty to them.
The set list could almost be the soundtrack to a young girls life, sitting in a café with a latte, reading a trashy romance novel, stealing glances at a cute guy across the room, thinking “Should I or shouldn’t I?” The longer she’s on stage the more comfortable Melanie becomes, explaining the inspiration behind certain songs and even taking time out to embarrass her sister who’s in the audience.
Claiming this to be her last song Melanie asks the audience to sing along during the chorus of I Just Want Some Love – “It’s just one word, “do” said over and over again”. And this song is a real slice of everyday-Sydney life: “I take the bus across the Harbour Bridge / Down George Street, on the L90 / In the elevator they don't say hello / People I don't know stop and stare”. The song really ends with a lot of bravado as Adam lets loose on his guitar and brings things to as close to a rock’n’roll romp as tonight gets.
After a brief break Melanie comes back on stage for a well-received encore and she is joined by cellist Kate McKay for a delicate and tense version of Roundabout. Then with the full band joining her on stage again the night ends in a really positive way with really intense and groovy songs, Magic Mirror and When I’m in Your Room.
The intimacy of The Basement leant itself perfectly to Melanie’s music tonight and gave her the perfect place with which to launch her new album. And it was this last song performed that really summed up all that Melanie’s music is about: “I am in the corner / The waiting perfume / Happier than smiling / When I'm in your room”. The beauty of her music lie’s in what is just beyond reach and life is all about the journey to get there. - Fasterlouder.com.au (04/10/05)


Discography

THE CLOUD APPRECIATION SOCIETY
Inflatablegirlfriendrecords/MGM distribution 2013

COMPLICATED SWEETHEART
Inflatablegirlfriendrecords/MGM distribution 2008

THE ADVENTURES OF...
Available in Europe from Rounder Europe 2005
Inflatablegirlfriendrecords/MGM 2005

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Bio

The Cloud Appreciation Society is the poignant new album of acclaimed Sydney-born songbird Melanie Horsnell. Five years on from Melanie Horsnell’s celebrated album Complicated Sweetheart, this new offering is a coming-of-age, with heartbreaking songs of small town love and loss written in Candelo, her new home beneath black mountains.

A departure from the Beatlesque pop flavour of previous albums, The Cloud Appreciation Society was recorded live and glows with a gentle acoustic stripped-back sound. Melanie Horsnell’s music has a simplicity and understated reverie akin to a Roy Orbison song. These are bittersweet songs of longing, separation and new beginnings woven together with a feathery, starry-eyed voice and a delicate but timeless presence, which has made Melanie Horsnell so adored on the scene.

Melanie Horsnell’s music is loved in France, she was nominated for an APRA award in 2011, she’s played alongside Bernard Fanning, Sarah Blasko, Jason Mraz, Josh Pyke and Glen Hansard and The Frames and written songs with Wendy Matthews and Catherine Britt and for film and television. Melanie Horsnell broke out on the Sydney scene in 2000 and has been wowing audiences and listeners around the country and overseas ever since. In 2003 came her critically acclaimed debut album The Adventures of…, produced by none other than Garth Porter; and in 2008 Melanie followed up with another album which continued to impress the critics - Complicated Sweetheart - which hit high rotation in radio around Australia.

The Cloud Appreciation Society is an intimate lullaby where the songwriting sparkles - from the gentle opener of Gershwin’s ‘Oh So Nice’; to the dark obsession of new passion in ‘Love you Madly’; to Melanie’s tender ‘If We Can’t Be Together’ with the aching lyrics ‘If we could only push on through another storm/do you think we’d find a beach somewhere to lay upon’. The songs take the listener on a very personal journey, from beneath shadows to dappled glades with the whispered love shanty of ‘So as the Sea’; to the wonderment of new birth ‘My Harmony, my Gypsy’ and finishing off with the glittering effortlessness of ‘My Heart Just Wants to Fall in Love’ which evokes a modern Patsy Kline. Recorded live at Down in the Dairy Studios by Paul Greene with Robyn Martin on vocals and Anna Martin on drums, The Cloud Appreciation Society is mixed by Ben Tolliday (Heath Cullen, Jackie Marshall) and mastered by Jonathan Burnside.

Melanie Horsnell’s The Cloud Appreciation Society is an enchanting new album which will take you to a quiet place after a storm, where sorrowful songs soar and where clouds are counted. Don’t miss out on a chance of catching Melanie Horsnell’s magic live.

Melanie Horsnell is part of Sydney’s acoustic renaissance. Sydney Morning Herald
Melanie creates great, even classic acoustic pop. Drum Media
Shimmering pop…sweet folky vocal and sparkling production. Daily Telegraph