Melody Pool, Jemma Nicole @ Trinity Sessions, Adelaide 25/6/2021

In March 2013, I was lucky enough to download the song Xavier by Melody Pool which was the iTunes free single of the week and I have been hooked ever since. Her powerful and beautiful voice has always been at the forefront of both her recorded and live output. Even though I have seen her many times before, I was still looking forward to her return to Adelaide and in particular to the Trinity Sessions which is a venue with incredible acoustics. Melody is an important artist that justifiably deserves greater success but her career has faced some interruptions and setbacks along the way, notably her decision to take a break in relation to her depression and mental health issues. Tonight’s gig could very nearly have become another show that didn’t happen after several postponements including a close call just this week. From the first moments until the very end, it was definitely worth the wait.

Half the set is made up of new songs, and the first was one of those. Stop Starting was an almost acapella hymn with a simple synth hum provided by her partner Christopher Dale who accompanied her on bass and keyboards for most of the set and it is apparent that the natural reverb in this cavernous church hall makes it an appropriate venue for the music being played. Unbreakable Chain is in the style of 60’s British folk in the tradition Pentangle or one of the other artists on the Transatlantic record label. Although she has been moving away from her country beginnings as demonstrated by these first songs, Melody has started play songs from her debut album again and there is the country chug of my favourite Xavier which is an excellent example of the timeless quality that her music has. She describes that there is a rage in her music and this is evidenced by the new song The Fall during which she asks, “Isn’t the flight worth risking the fall?” and this angst continues on Old Enough when she sings “ I’m old enough and I am a woman now”.

The element of therapy in her song writing is ever-present and never more so than on Black Dog, an explicitly personal, moving song that builds slowly. A song as stark as any you will hear reflecting upon depression. She introduces the next song Love, She Loves Me with almost a language warning given that it may be inappropriate to play in a church but it is easily the most musically upbeat and afterward comments that she first considered that no should have ever heard it but the later released it as a single.

Queen of My Own Dimension is a somewhat psychedelic song that consolidates her sound in the folk tradition and continues her themes of having a dialogue with herself. Things Must Change is an angry protest song rallying against the government, a rare outward-looking song amongst the rest of her usual introspection with the rallying call of “let’s go back to extinction, that’ll fix ‘em”. The heaviest song tonight is the soulful blues of Slow Moving Breeze, a display of her new directions in music before returning to introspection with Of Loving and thoughts “of loving and being loved in return”. The encore is a faithful cover of what Melody describes as a “lullaby”, the Mazzy Star classic (song) Fade Into You. Melody’s third album will hopefully be released soon and from the songs we heard from it tonight it should be excellent as her previous two albums

Supporting Melody tonight was Jemma Nicole who is a local musician that has returned to Adelaide after several years interstate. She performed an enjoyable opening set of “bad girl” outlaw country and had a good rapport with the audience. The country prayer Too late to Save My Soul is introduced with irony considering she is playing it in a church especially with the chorus of “Lord don’t give up on me, I just get lost being free”. This is followed by a song she describes as being about having daddy issues, Make My Daddy Cry. There are no illusions as to what Blood Moon is about as she is upfront about it before she begins although it would not have been hard to work it out with lyrics like “deep dark rivers and impending doom” and “crimson flow”. She announces her last song as If I Had a Gun, responding to a giggle among the audience with “Are you surprised though?” and during this final song, the reverb of the church hall provided what sounded like beautiful backing vocals. I look forward to seeing Jemma again soon and both Melody and Jemma really complemented each other musically tonight.

Live Review By Richard De Pizzol

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