Melanie De Biasio - No Deal (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
MELANIE De Biasio emerges as a pretty exceptional vocal talent with new album No Deal.
A minimalist, semi-improvised collection of songs, the record has helped the singer garner comparisons with the great Billie Holiday, while also appealing to fans of late period Talk Talk. De Biasio herself cites Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln as influences and there are times when her vocals also match those standards.
Clocking in at 33 and a third minutes and containing just seven songs, No Deal nevertheless wastes little time in showcasing the skills of its creator. Indeed, it is her voice that ushers in proceedings with the intimate I Feel You delivered in almost a capella style (and establishing her sultry, jazzy tones to classy effect).
Thereafter, De Biasio allows her vocals to mix playfully with Pascal Paulus’ boisterous keyboards, Pascal Mohy’s classical piano and Dre Pallemaerts’ drums, some of which veer towards the classically jazzy and others that boast a cinematic style.
As if to underline the album’s ability to capture and keep your attention, however, some songs aren’t afraid to wrong-foot.
Hence, while The Flow (one of our favourites, which finds De Biasio offering lyrics such as “how about a new way to pray?”) has a smooth jazz vibe for the most past, some slinky flutes add an element of mystery… even danger.
On Sweet Darling Pain, meanwhile, De Biasio positively purrs over some jazzy piano and a bluesy backing harmony that is dripping in classic Simone style. It’s another of the album’s showstoppers.
While With Love eschews too much romance, opting for a brooding central piano chord that sounds like it should be accompanying some tense movie moment. It’s another example of how De Biasio combines classic songwriting structure with the occasional subversion… and evidence of how her improvisational style also reaps rewards.
I’m Gonna Leave You, similarly, continues that element of the surprising… with some deliberately off-key piano chords ushering in another sensual, toe-tapping beat and another delicious set of vocals that, from the top, announce “I’m gonna leave you, cos I want to”. She has a sense of authority that’s endearing, especially when delivering lines like “no more headaches, no more heart breaks… I’m gonna leave you with your money, want someone to call me honey”.
With All My Love, meanwhile, strips things right back down for a moody finale that finds De Biasio’s vocals taking firm centre stage (a sombre piano provides subtle accompaniment for the somewhat downbeat lyrics).
No matter what she’s doing or singing about, though, De Biasio has an intoxicating presence – and one that leaves you thirsting for more.
Download picks: The Flow, Sweet Darling Pain, I’m Gonna Leave You