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I had heard of Melanie Fiona for a while before I actually decided to listen to some of her music to see what I thought of her. When I listened to her I liked what I heard, she had an impressive voice and I was looking forward to hearing more from her so I downloaded a couple of tracks then decided to get her album too. A bit about her, she hails from Toronto, Canada and made her music entrance in 2007 but it wasn't until 2009 that she had recorded and released an album which is the subject of my review "The Bridge".
The album was released on 26th June 2009 and was recorded over the 2008/09 period. "The Bridge" features thirteen songs with a mixture of soul, R&B, neo soul, reggae and hip hop music with a pop twist. Fiona worked on the album with amongst others Andrea Martin, Vada Nobles, Future Cut and finally Stereotypes, there were a few other lesser known producers who worked with her on the album. The album was released on the SRC/Universal Motown record label.
1.) Give it to me right
This is a smoky soul ballad throwing down the ultimatum to a partner who isn't treating her well enough, Fiona sings "Give it to me right or don't give it to me at all". This is a good message for anyone who isn't treating that someone quite as they should. Fiona's vocals are excellent here with some very nice soulful vocals which are backed by some excellent bluesy guitar work which really adds to the emotion of the song. This gets things off to a great start.
2.) Bang, Bang
This is a catchy track which has a more up tempo feel than the opener, It's a little too much like Girls Aloud for my liking, It's a decent track but isn't as focused as the best tracks on the album and therefore loses some star power compared to the best. Not a bad track and it still shows a decent vocal from Melanie Fiona but it just doesn't have that progression that I feel was needed for this track to hit the heights of the best tracks on the album.
3.) Monday Morning
This is a very catchy mid tempo track with laid back vocals mixed with a pacy melody which works well, I see this track as a decent crowd participation track with fans singing the chorus along with her. Her vocals are well performed and the music is of a toe tapping nature. This is a decent track and gets the album back on track with an improved standard from the previous track. Some catchy parts here.
4.) Please Don't go (Cry Baby)
This is a catchy Pop soul track which has a shuffling old school soul melody and some laid back vocals. I don't think the music fits with the sentiment of the song, It's too chirpy for the subject of the song which is about pleading with someone not to leave you. Should have been emotive but it doesn't have that spark so it's a little disappointing. Not a bad track as such but a little unfocused and it doesn't fit with the emotion of the actual subject.
5.) Ay Yo
This is a soulful ballad which decent percussion and gentle guitars, Melanie's vocals shine on this mellow track which has a hint of Reggae. I like the way that this track progresses with some catchy music and Melanie Fiona's vocals combine well with the music to create a nice feel. She showcases the range of her voice towards the end with a soaring vocal and then some more powerful flowing vocals. Good stuff if a little unfocused.
6.) Walk On By
This is an excellent ballad, It's sound is steeped in old soul with a new catchy twist. Her vocals are strong and fluid on this track about telling someone to leave when you have had enough of them. This is a different track from the well known song of the same name. Melanie Fiona's vocals are confident and expressive on this decent track which has backing which reminds me of Destiny's Child in the way they are set up.
7.) You stop my heart
Here she sounds a little like Jordin Sparks, the military like drum beat works well with the choir like backing vocals. The track is about when you meet someone who makes your heart skip a beat when you fall in love with them. This is a really well produced track which shows what talent Melanie Fiona has. It's a pretty decent track which works well.
This is an extremely catchy up tempo track which interestingly has a Lady Gaga meets Plan B feel. Melanie Fiona's vocals are fluid and the music is very melodic. The track is about a guy "Johnny" who she can't get over after a relationship ends. It could be a great track but it's lost in a decent melody and doesn't have that emotive spark that it should. too much on the catchiness of the music and not the emotive feel.
9.) Sad Songs
Here she sounds a little like Jazmine Sullivan but she doesn't live up to Sullivan's vocals. This is a decent track about when you hear songs which remind you of times with your ex and it brings the feelings back that you felt one day. This track is one of the better tracks on the album and has a nice feel which has elements of pop, reggae and soul.
This is the one of the best tracks on the album, It starts with a dark piano sound then the shuffling beat and percussion comes in. Melanie Fiona's vocals are suitably emotive on this track and the gentle guitar works really well to keep the emotive feel here. The sentiment of the track is about giving yourself over to someone when you are in a relationship and share your feelings with them. I like the way this track moves throughout the verses and it ends pretty well.
11.) It Kills Me
Arguably the best track on the album this is a laid back ballad with some lovely strings in the background and some laid back beats. The track is about when you feel you love someone too much who may not be right for you and you can't let go. She deals well with the emotion here with strong vocals and the backing vocals are excellent too. This is easily one of the best if not the best track on the album. Good stuff.
12.) Teach Him
This is a soulful ballad with gentle Spanish guitar and Melanie Fiona's expressive vocals are a highlight of the song, the strings and gentle percussion build the song well and the track is about molding your relationship with someone by telling your partner how you want to be treated. This is the most stripped down track on the album and also one of the best, It shows what she has vocally and the arrangement really works well.
This is the final track on the album and is a catchy return to the more up tempo openers of this album. The letters translate to "Grown ass man". The track is about wanting a real Man and not some immature so and so. haha. This is not as good a track as the previous couple but ends the track on a decent note with a really catchy vibe.
Melanie Fiona certainly has a decent voice but do her tracks live up to her vocal ability? Well no not entirely. There are some very good tracks here but they are few and far between. most are just decent and it's only in the final third of the album where you get the best tracks here. I have yet to give her second album a listen but on this evidence she must do a lot better if she is going to continue to have a very successful Music career and get the plaudits of her contemporaries. Nice voice but not a Polished artist. I will give the album three stars.
Coming out of Toronto Canada, the R&B and Soul singer Melanie Fiona came with her debut album in 2009 when she brought "The Bridge", in which you find a range of producers from all over (such as Jamaica's Supa Dups, The UK's Future Cuts and the US's Salaam Remi) all coming to contribute to her breakthrough release.
1. "Give It To Me Right"
The album gets going with her debut and breakthrough single. It is one where she shows directly who her influences are with a song that has a distinctive seventies Soul feel to it and it meant that it did take some time to really feel, but as it is a single the heavy radio rotation means that you get to the point where you can really appreciate the strength of this mellow tune and the talent she posses.
2. "Bang Bang"
Moving on from the lead single, you see that with this one the artist comes with a track that has her coming with a tune that really gives the listener a good idea of what this album is about an the direction that she is going to come with on this occasion with her 'Pop Soul' material as you find that she comes with a high-tempo, commercial tune, that I felt was a little too clean to really enjoy (when compared to her raw Soul elsewhere).
3. "Monday Morning"
Here she comes with a track which follows directly from the tune prior to it as she comes with another song which has her brining some very mainstream material. I felt that it was a shame to get them placed together as it doesn't really give you a chance to feel any sort of range, in the material as it comes off the single that all know her for and right into a couple of tunes which completely undermine it.
4. "Please Don't Go"
Here she performs a song where she moves things on ever so slightly with one which appears to pull in even more of the sorts of things that put me off the album, but you do get some degree of progression as she is seen to bring in some more things (other than pure Pop) to help her show what she is about, and so with hints of the late sixties to early seventies Motown sound, this helps it, but not all that much.
5. "Ay Yo"
Here she performs an empowering tune where she expresses how she wishes to do things independently without any sort of help from others and against what other people are telling her to. Although I can appreciate that he sings the song well and the themes directly reflect what you get in her performance, I wasn't really brought in by the song all that much, but the range of styles that are brought in do help it here.
6. "Walk On By"
Here you get a mid-tempo track on the record and here she makes her Pop influences quite clear in her music, and I felt that this was an aspect of it that forced me out as I couldn't really see where it fitted in with how the album was going as she brought in lots of original concepts, but then she comes out with one that really doesn't do much at all and is seen to use things that are very too easily accessible to take any real notice of.
7. "You Stop My Heart"
This is a nice tune on the album, when comparing it to the sorts of things that you get into the rest of the record, it is one of the better ones on it as you see that she comes with a well-developed, bluesy Soul tune here and puts her vocals to good use by placing it in the sort of place it is designed to be, but still it doesn't really have the right backing to take it anywhere to really be noticed by listeners.
This is one of the high-tempo tunes on the album, and so you get a bit of a swing in the record to lift moods again in the way that was found with the second and third tracks of the album, and I felt tha this one was a bit of a step up from those, but once again had her not really appearing to make too much of an effort to take things to a level that is all that impressive or unique, and so it doesn't really stand out here.
9. "Sad Songs"
Here she gets down to another of the popular tracks from the album and one that has her tring out some different things by getting Reggae dubs as backing in the production to guide her through as she powers through with her voice and makes the most of it. Personally, I don't like it when artists (other from those actually from the place) try out Reggae-themed material and I as it didn't relate to the overall song, it didn't really seem right here.
Here you get one of very few tunes on the album which match expectations that I had when going into the album as she does a tune which has her getting into some contemporary R&B (which for her on the album sounds to be a slight change in direction). However, just because she does something that you would have expected to get, doesn't mean it's that good, and I did think that her watered-down material was going to impress many in the current scene.
11. "It Kills Me"
Here you get one of the slower songs from the artist and it is one that has her pull all that she can out of the potential in her voice to come out with a raging song where he ensures that her message heard and she gets the recognition she deserves. The way it was composed didn't really do much at all for me. However I did see that the song writing for this one was on-point and displays her talent for it well.
12. "Teach Him"
With Andrea Martin on her side, this one has the Canadian singer-songwriter coming up with another soulful tune here, but it was another that wasn't really to my tastes as she does anther where she tries out some alternative things to come out with what you find in the music. Here she is backed by some Spanish guitaring, and it just wasn't something I could really engage with or really enjoy.
She ends the album with a tune which appears to bring things back round to the sort of place that listeners found themselves at as they album began, but perhaps not really where the most came out of it as you find that it is a pretty straight-forward tune with her ripping through the beats (that come from the Manchester Drum & Bass duo Future Cut) with her emotive vocals and great performance.
I was a bit disappointed by this album as, really there isn't all that much going on in the album at all as it stays on the same level in the way that Jazmine Sullivan's debut did,. And so although there aren't any weaknesses in her performance, the production she is given just isn't enough to be excited about and it means that it isn't really engaging at all.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Give It To Me Right
2 Bang Bang
3 Monday Morning
4 Please Don't Go (Cry Baby)
5 Ay Yo
6 Walk on By
7 You Sop My Heart
9 Sad Songs
11 It Kills Me
12 Teach Him