Sunday, 23 September 2012


A few things to get through in this post. Starting off with a review of Melinda Ortner's brilliant EP Strangers, released last week. Then a brief review of two new singles. Follow Me, I'm Right Behind You by Joyce The Librarian and The Heart is a Muscle by Dylan Mondegreen

MTV’s “Steal The Spotlight” Grand Prize Winner
LA Music Award Nominee, Best Song
“Top 15 Songwriters Of The Year” for ASCAP’s Johnny Mercer Project


I will be the first to admit this kind of music isn’t typically what I go for. I will also freely admit it would be a grave error on my part to remain ignorant to the infectious tunes of Melinda Ortner. This is what real pop should be like. Enough with the soulless pap being ceaselessly churned out thanks to, but by no means exclusively by, music reality television shows. Melinda demonstrates everything that is good about traditional popular music and where it should be at, these days. Her Strangers EP contains thought-provoking, deep and expressive lyrics married with some melodies that pull you in so fast there is a risk of a little motion sickness. It is well worth it, believe me. There is style and there is substance in abundance.

With first single Heartbeats being picked up and featured in American Pie: Book of Love, it is surprising this Californian-born singer-songwriter is still completely independent of any major label. This says a lot about the sad sorry state of the music industry at present. Yes, there are lots of other artists and bands deserving of deals but for them not to have snapped up Melinda Ortner already is just a crime.

The dark title track Strangers opens with short, almost haunting strings before the vocals begin. At first these are delicate, exuding innocence. In turn, some prominent percussion joins the mix before the vocals find their own strength and dominance. Added synths help build an ominous and moody atmosphere that lingers in the mind like a grim pursuing shadow. Wait Another Day is similarly melancholic in nature. However, in contrast to the opener it manages to mix the slower, sadder ambiance with a much more upbeat sounding chorus. The lamentation of the added cello is just sublime. To follow, there is a deliberate deception with Sweet Little Lies. It entices you in as a slow contemplative number but soon the throttle is opened as the tempo builds before the chorus breaks out into what is the catchiest number on the record. It also allows Melinda to demonstrate more of her vocal range as the style alternates with a kamikaze feel. If ears had them, this song would surely keep them on their toes. Its ending is noteworthy too for its distinctly bluesy feel. Closing track Somethin’ Sorry feels like a wonderful infusion of blues and jazz influences with a beautiful piano solo that then develops into a pure jazz jam on the keyboard.

This body of work is a perfect precursor to what should prove to be a sensational debut album (due December, at present). What is unusual is that rather than rushing out half-hearted lame pop tunes, as so many do, Melinda has spent the last five years in LA more wisely. It is clear this is one of the chief reasons Strangers possesses the star quality it does. Although still a very new act herself, any up and coming wannabes should promptly follow suit and develop themselves before launching on to the music scene. Strong and vulnerable with just the right balance of dark and light, each song on the EP offers something different so it isn’t a case of one size fits all for this artist. It will be interesting to hear how this develops further with the full album.


Follow Me, I’m Right Behind You is the first single to be released from this indie-folk band’s debut album, They May Put Land Between Us (due out 5th November). I do have the full album which I will review and I’ve already expressed what a stunningly beautiful record it is. Currently playing in my car and while not the typical sort of driving music I’m used to, it takes me places I’d rather go to as opposed to where I physically have to.

This single is a perfect introduction to the band with its gentle unassuming melodies that nevertheless sweep you up as if in the midst of a torrent. It is just a nice gentle slightly buffeting kind of torrent with padded clothing for protection. The pensive lyrics and looping one-line chorus may, at first glance, appear overly simplified but it is all in the delivery. The tender vocals fit snugly with the accompanying music. The musical prowess of band members is hinted at so well, one song will not be enough to satisfy the thirst it will leave you with for more. Roll on 5th November when all of Joyce The Librarian’s songs will be available for you to hear and enjoy.

Live Dates:

September 20th London – Green Note
November 1stCardiff – Ten Feet Tall
November 2nd – Hay-On-Wye – The Globe
November 8thLondon – The Betsey Trotwood
November 9thBristol - Folkhouse


One interesting truism about Dylan Mondegreen is that this is not the Norwegian pop artist’s real name. It is a pseudonym for Børge Sildness, who already has two previously and well-received albums under his belt. The Heart Is A Muscle is the second single from his third, self-titled (as Dylan Mondegreen, that is) album but it is the first record to get an official UK release. Again, I do have the whole album which is released on 8th October so I will aim to get a review up of the whole by then.

The Heart Is A Muscle is a gem. A seemingly melancholic love song lamenting the break up of a relationship, this is a subtle but welcome deception. It focuses more so on how the heart can take the pain of such emotional turmoil. It will recover and recuperate, especially as the girl wasn’t suitable anyway. It will go on to beat the stronger. It’s a beautiful play on words because the heart is, after all, a muscle.

There’s a real nice ethereal feel to the string accompaniments but this is only one of a number of other musical instruments and effects bought into the final mix. Even though Dylan’s vocals exude gloominess they are so palatable to the ear, they establish a quick emotional connection making you feel for the loss and pain he is singing about. The strings add a nice depth to the melancholy while the remainder of the music is considerably upbeat. It never sounds like it is contradicting itself, however. All in all this is not only masterfully crafted; it is a beautifully composed and elegantly produced song.

And Finally…

To finish off this post please see the Press Release below, from the good folk at Prescription PR. I have a copy of this album also so I will be writing my review prior to the release date and I will also be attending the gig in Wellingborough on Saturday 27th October. I’ll get up a review of this too.

New album from Gilmore and Robert: The Innocent Left

Album release: Gilmore and Roberts, The Innocent Left
Release date: 29 October 2012
Label: Navigator

'Their sound is something many artists would die for' - Spiral Earth

'..young duo who've been making waves on the folk's well deserved' - Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2

Contemporary folk/acoustic duo Gilmore and Roberts combine award-winning song writing with astounding lap-tapping guitar, fiery fiddle and their trademark harmonies, creating a powerful wall of sound. Their third album The Innocent Left, recorded in London with producer Julian Simmons (Guillemots, Ed Sheeran, Albert Lee), explores many and varied topics but remains consistently bound by Gilmore & Roberts' passion for stories. From the steady groove of the intriguing Doctor James to the relentless pounding of Scarecrow, and Silver Screen's wistful introspection, the album encompasses elements of folk, bluegrass and rock while maintaining the Yorkshire-based pair's own distinctive stylings.

Katriona Gilmore (from Knebworth, Hertfordshire) and Jamie Roberts (Barnsley and proud) met while studying at Leeds College of Music and began working together in 2006, releasing their first full-length album Shadows & Half Light two years later. In 2010, the duo were nominated for the BBC Radio 2 Horizon Award and released their hotly anticipated second album, Up From The Deep, receiving national airplay. They also scored a 'Best Original Song' Hancock Award for Fleetwood Fair.

Since then, the duo have toured with folk rock legends Fairport Convention and completed several headline tours in their own right, astonishing audiences up and down the country, as well as performing at some of Britain's largest acoustic festivals. Both are familiar faces to festival-goers nationwide from their previous projects - Gilmore with indie folk sensations Tiny Tin Lady, singer, Rosie Doonan and more recently The Albion Band, and Roberts with young English traditionalists Kerfuffle.

UK Tour Dates:
For a full list of forthcoming UK tour dates, please go to

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