Melanie Joy
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Melanie Joy


Band Alternative Pop


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The best kept secret in music


"The Independent"

With only about half an hour of performance time at her disposal, Melanie could have rested completely on her laurels and performed the five songs from her brand new EP. But in a nice touch, she opted to play only two of those songs, opening instead with two songs, Cancer and Rose-Coloured Spectacles, which were rarely on the set list in her shows with Moon in Pisces. With its jazz inflections and its instantly sing-able chorus, Cancer offered an instant and welcome change of pace for this audience. It also demonstrated the hallmark of Melanie’s music, the richly complex yet fully accessible song, again in a way that no other performer attempted. Rose Coloured Spectacles continued the style and the mood, with its beautifully majestic opening and its enchanting progression.

Melanie’s third song was Girl from the Frying Pan, one of her oldest and one of her best, and an audience favourite from her Moon in Pisces days. Here, though, she re-cast it, offering a much different piano sound as a backdrop, and the effect was fascinating to anyone who knew the song from its earlier guises. But this was the only point at which the sound system slightly betrayed her: the new piano sound was louder than the standard grand piano treatment, and the song’s truly marvelous lyrics were hard to hear. Too bad, because the vocal performance itself was strong, particularly during the song’s elaborate middle section.

Floating on Empty came next, one of the highlights of the new EP. The weeks of work on the recording of this song became noticeable immediately, as Melanie attacked it with complete certainty and an impressive confidence. Anyone familiar with the CD version will miss the harmonies when they hear it live, but impressively, Melanie brings those harmonies into the performance in different ways.

While she really has no need for cover songs (nobody who can write this well ever does), Melanie has always brought covers into her sets, and today was no different. But here as always, her choice was unpredictable: Weezer’s Say it Ain’t So. But then, maybe it’s not so unpredictable. Its lyrics – which you can find all over the Web if you wish – aren’t that far removed from Melanie’s own lyrics, and there was something personal about this performance that made it intriguingly special.

The closer, and perhaps her closer forever, was Webweaver. A brilliant, moving, complex, haunting song, Webweaver opens with an evocative and riveting piano riff that sets the tone and never lets up. How she managed to pull this one off while withering under the sun in anyone’s guess, but she did, and the audience listened intently throughout. This is surely one of the great songs of our time, and one that’s destined for far larger stages than the Lighthouse’s hay wagon. But today, on that hay wagon, it sounded nothing short of superb.

Next up for Melanie, the CD launch party in Toronto on October 25. There, we’ll hear another first: a full evening of Melanie Joy alone on stage, with her whole repertoire at her disposal. The six songs today in Fort Erie have merely served to whet the appetite.

- Trevor Carey


Across the street at Q Bar ( 592 Queen St. W. at Bathurst), meanwhile, Tuesdays continue to feature a charming vocal/piano duet, Moon In Pisces. Singer Cindy Therrien and singer/pianist Melanie Douglas combine for beautiful harmonies on several ethereal Pop originals (five of which are featured on their tidy little CD, Something Blue) and a variety of covers of fem-Rock artists. The duo will also be featured as showcase guests at the Mon. Dec. 16 edition of Gary 17's Acoustic Open Stage at the club.
- Gary Tate


1. Melanie Joy, "Melanie Joy" (5-song CD, 2003). All songs written by Melanie Joy.

2. Moon in Pisces, "Something Blue" (5-song CD), 2000. All songs written by Melanie Joy.

3. The Tunnel Theory, "The Tunnel Theory" (8-song cassette, 1996). All songs written by Melanie Joy.


Feeling a bit camera shy


In an industry that thrives on sameness, Melanie Joy is unique.

Intense and uncompromising about all aspects of her music, Melanie strives for that rarest of feats: collections of songs in which every single one demands to be the best. There are no throwaways in Melanie’s creative repertoire, no songs that stay in the mix simply because they’re pretty, or they have an appealing hook, or they fill up a few minutes in a pleasant way. To make it onto a recording or into a live show, the song must prove itself, over and over and over again. And with a constantly growing repertoire of originals already numbering over 100, only the strong survive.

Melanie's music and lyrics have been described as “prolific, enigmatic, and intensely passionate,” and with a full array of richly harmonized vocals, her songs have continually developed into full, melodic and lyrically fascinating masterpieces. What is clear from her music are the many influences behind Melanie’s work. Some will hear the melodic prowess, and in fact the expressive piano playing, of early Elton John. Others will find comparisons to Carole King, Tori Amos, and Alanis Morissette. Still others will find echoes from the best of rock-based musical theater. Melanie fully admits to these influences, and adds to them the likes of past masters Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ella Fitzgerald, Dusty Springfield, Petula Clark, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the much more recent Blind Melon, Bjork, Silverchair, Ben Folds, Coldplay, John Mayer, Radiohead, and Rufus Wainwright.

In live performance, with the stage presence of Alicia Keys and Diana Krall, Melanie brings her songs to life with her piano and her voice, demanding of both that they fit the song precisely. Dramatic and expansive at one extreme, simple and quiet at the other, her piano figures never cease embellishing, encouraging, and guiding the songs along. But as complete as her piano work might be, these are songs designed to be sung, and the voice she gives to them - indeed, the many voices on her recordings - bring the rich, evocative melodies to the fore, lending an truly beautiful expressiveness to the music and the lyrics that only their writer could possibly convey. These songs are demanding in dynamic range, melodic structures, and lyrical phrasings, but hers is a voice more than meets this demand head on.

There’s a sense when listening to Melanie Joy that you are hearing music as it meant to be: complex yet accessible, intelligent yet emotional, dream-based but reality-driven. Mostly, though, there’s a sense that you’ll never want to be without it again, and that’s the feeling that only the best music can give.