The Commercial end of Americana
I WANNA BE OK has been a challenge for, me as I’m pretty sure I’m not the target demographic for Californian singer-songwriter Melinda Ortner. This is the type of music that you’d hear on TV Series like Nashville or Glee.
Melinda Ortner has a really cool, edgy voice and her self-penned songs are all passionate and heartbreakingly honest; but the instruments; in particular the drums and keyboards sound synthetic and wouldn’t have been out of place in the 80’s.
Caught in the Middle has a great hook and Ortner’s vocals are excellent but I can’t help imagining some balding bloke in the background, wearing a silk shirt over a white vest playing a bank of keyboards as if his life depended on it.
The next track Jezebella has ‘hit’ written all over it and sounds like Taylor Swift singing a Bangles b-side; which is actually a compliment but not the type of music that I listen to from choice.
I presume that the video for The Beauty in Me will have Melissa looking all angsty in silk and chiffon as smoke billows around her; or perhaps there may even be a white stallion galloping through crashing waves; it’s ‘that’ type of power ballad.
Say Those Things opens with someone regurgitating the Synth Pop hit ‘Popcorn’ until Ms Ortner begins singing what sounds like an interesting song; but you can’t make the words out as the man with the fairground organ constantly drowns her out.
As the 11th track ended I wasn’t sure that I had the willpower to listen to the finale; but I’m glad I did because Melinda finally gets to shine on Maybe; which only has an acoustic guitar and some strings (in the background) as accompaniment.
I’ve now listened to I WANNA BE OK five times and feel exactly the way I did on the first play; disappointed. The album is probably aimed at young music fans who have been brought up on Taylor Swift and the Jonas Brothers; but someone high up has made a huge mistake by allowing the constant use of electronica, as it doesn’t even make the songs danceable; just overpowering what could have been a pretty good album as the last song suggests.