November 2006

Melissa McClelland
November 15, 2006Hugh's RoomToronto
Melissa McClelland Gets Her Kicks…
by Molly Anthony with photo by Dougal Bichan
Having recently returned from the epic, 4,000-kilometre drive on the historic Route 66, Melissa McClelland touched down on familiar territory at Hugh’s Room last Wednesday night. The Burlington, Ontario native has had a landmark year: A new album (Thumbelina’s One Night Stand), a new husband (bandmate-producer Luke Doucet), and a brand spanking new Nashville zipcode.
Expecting to hear some pleasantly sweet, if slightly dark, rainy-Sunday-morning pop in the tradition of fellow singer-songwriter Canadian girls Sarah Harmer, Feist and Chantal Kreviazuk, it was not at all surprising when a pretty girl in a little black dress quietly took the stage with her band. Instead, McClelland opened her set with a country twist — jangling steel guitars, vocals full of guts and soul — and set the stage for an entertaining evening that showcased an undeniable, growing talent.
Luke Doucet & Melissa McClelland
She was clearly at home as she had friends join her on stage to sing harmonies, and thanked her high school music teacher who was sitting in the audience. But she has traveled far and away from the young topics and sounds of the Degrassi-soundtrack-type songs that marked her last album, Stranded In Suburbia.

In Thumbelina’s One Night Stand, and in her performance, Melissa McClelland explores a deeper, darker, older terrain, one which she and her band seem highly adept at navigating — from the truly exceptional, gut-bucket and gospel-tinged “Go Down Matthew” to the country-blues, big-rig and diesel-laced “Passenger 24”, to a real treat of a Willie Nelson cover of “Time of The Preacher”, the musicians and the swelling harmonies were bang on.

The show also drew on some of her equally polished, jazzy pop-noire material from Thumbelina’s, but the real treat of the evening was hearing a bona-fide bluesy songstress emerge. While Canada will miss one of its most promising homegrown talents, let’s hope the Nashville scene is just the beginning for Melissa McClelland.
We welcome your comments and feedback
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Molly Anthony
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Dougal Bichan
The Live Music Report

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