I Wanna Be Okay – Melinda Ortner (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Library-7After a slew of UK Brit School babes being turned out with an eye on dominating the charts, from the nostalgic soul drenched Adele and Amy Winehouse to the slightly directionless efforts of Kate Nash and the purer and more contemporary sound of Jessie J, it is ironic that it has taken a Californian artist to come along and show them how it should be done. Okay, she is the graduate of an equivalent stateside facility, the Songwriting School of Los Angeles to be exact, but there seems to be something more appealing going on with this debut album, something more mature, song rather than career driven, leading to favourable comparisons to Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor.

 

All that said, I Wanna Be OK, stands very well on it’s own two feet and uses a scatter gun of subtly embedded influences to lyrically explore the fears and dreams of trying to make it in the demanding musical world. Jezabella spills over with old school rock and roll grooves trapped in a slick, modern pop package, recent single, Strangers, is a dark, claustrophobic cry and the highlight for me, The Beauty in Me, is an epic that just shimmers with slow burning punch and rock dynamics. Elsewhere the soul diva, the pop princess, the retro-cool and the ultra-modern all have room to take flight. In short it is an album of now and then, the best of the past and the present.

 

It’s a set of songs that wander a fine line, one that will appeal to the serious muso, the ones who opt for the cultish artist over the more chart aware release, but it will also be right up the street of the mainstream music fan as well, a great trick to be able to pull off with your first full length release.

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