Melanie de Biasio is a Belgian singer who seems to be big on the continent but this is her first release in the UK. I must confess that I only became aware of her very recently thanks to the remarkable French radio station FIP. In No Deal Ms de Biasio has produced a gem of an album, one which carries a strong recommendation made up of two words: MUST and BUY.
The album is a short affair with only seven tracks that leave one aching for a lot more when they finish. Six of the tracks are penned by de Biasio and clavinet/synth player Pascal Paulus, the other is a classic made famous by Nina Simone (I’m Gonna Leave You). For reasons that are beyond my understanding each and every discussion concerning de Biasio brings an avalanche of comparisons to other songstresses, I think the comparison is not only unnecessary but also does this very talented singer an injustice. Melanie de Biasio has a very special presentation, there are no gimmicks or special effects involved, just something honest and emotional that captivates and enchants. As per the comment made above her voice and the style in which she presents her songs have been subject to many unjust comparisons. In my view she is unique enough to be taken on her own merits and for the album to be compared to her previous album (A Stomach is Burning) alone.
Her sound is dark, but not angry or depressed, her voice is just there, projected in a manner that allows the emotions it carries to be heard and felt with little that veils or hypes the presentation. The sound is not jazz or it is but not quite, the inclusion of a clavinet especially gives it a seventies feel, while at times the pianist conjures up the feel of Arvo Pärt. The analogue synth and drums give the rhythms and syncopation a tension that makes even the gentlest passages feel punctuated and defined in a very unique way. At times soul, at times jazz, at times chill but at all times beyond reproach and brilliant. Nothing is hurried yet a storm surrounds the listener with layers of notes and emotions. The album’s seven tracks are performed by Biasio voice and flute, Paulus, Dre Pallemaerts on drums and Pascal Mohy on piano; a very able group of musicians.
To my ears The Flow, the second track on the album, steals the ultimate accolade. This album is pure magic. One of the most delightful discoveries in recent times, I for one will make sure that it is not the only album of hers that finds its way into my collection.
Melanie seems to inspire comparisons with many great singers, Simone being my choice, but I have to agree with Reuben’s findings, this is a superb album and it sounds good too.