Melissa Bel's "Brave" Attempt at Blues

Monday · October 1st · 2012

>I was initially inclined to not like Melissa Bel’s album “Brave”. While possessing bluesy undertones, the sound remains somewhat mainstream and obvious. The lyrics lack in originality, and I found the songs repetitive and dull. However, I think my initial reaction may have been a little too harsh, and I realize that I was probably in the wrong. I listened to the album a few more times, and developed a certain attachment to the music. After all, Melissa Bel undeniably has a great voice, and she knows it.

As I mentioned, the subject matter of her songs may seem repetitive, as she constantly focuses on such obvious themes as lost love, absence, and heartbreak. However, thinking about it, it’s almost inevitable to not mention these themes in any creative work. They resound so strongly in society, and any listener is bound to associate with them. Therefore, while I disdain popular music, I maintain a certain respect for the artist who can appeal to the greater public.

Also, while the themes of her songs are mainly dismal, there remains a strong nuance of hopeful optimism. So, depending on the mood of the listener, Melissa Bel’s music may present a bleak portrayal of life and love, or it may serve the listener as a means to acceptance and hope.

My favorite song on the album is probably “Distance”. The instrumental is pleasant, her voice is flawless; it is definitely her strongest song. The right choice was made in placing it as the first on the album; it introduces with a smooth, melodious assurance. The only problem I have with the song (not that it’s really a problem) is the title “Distance”. While it’s a simple, accessible title, it’s far too obvious. There are way too many other songs with the same title. This fact reduces the importance of Melissa Bel’s song. For example, while listening to it, I immediately thought of another, similarly-named song by the American band Andrew Jackson Jihad. So, while listening to Melissa Bel, my thoughts were with another. Repeating obvious lyrics or names is never a wise move as an artist; it decreases strong creative presentation. But, otherwise the song is great.

Audio: Distance by Melissa Bel

think the reason I didn’t originally like the album lies in my definition of blues as a genre. I always picture a rainy New Orleans night, with an Armstrong-like figure in a smoky bar jamming on a saxophone. I love this representation, and I feel a type of nostalgia for this conception of true blues that I never had the chance to actually experience. So, first listening to Melissa Bel, I was biased and disdainful of the mainstream approach to such a revered musical tradition. But it’s important to remember that there are different categories of blues; that the rules establishing one specific genre of music do not necessarily need to be followed. After all, art is based on progress and adaptation, no matter how distasteful. Besides, why is it even necessary to categorize music?

So, while I am not personally a huge Melissa Bel fan, I would understand the attraction to her music. It’s smooth, heartbreakingly enthusiastic, and all in all quite lovely - in an obvious, sentimental way.

album info

Title: Brave
Artist: Melissa Bel
Release Date: 2010

Track list
1. Distance - 5:23
2. We all lose our way - 3:15
3. Better things to do - 5:12
4. I Hate to Say it - 3:53
5. Get Away With Murder - 4:47
6. I wish you would Kiss me - 3:54
7. Tear this Apart - 3:52
8. You Don't Fool Me - 3:55
9. Tragey in Disguise - 4:07
10. Brave - 5:45


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