Amidst the loves we leave and seek, there are songs pointing to the stars and arms reaching through the blackout. We rest easy knowing that soon the sky will be filled with burning lights, our eyes brimming with wonder. Suddenly, from out of the past, a voice leans into the May wind with a heartful of harmony: “Today is Victoria Day.”
Melissa McClelland returns with her highly anticipated third album, Victoria Day. Produced by Luke Doucet, her Six Shooter Records debut finds McClelland deeply in touch with a sense of melody and wordplay that rivals any of her contemporaries.
Like a roadmap tracing the veins of a country one can only dream of visiting, Victoria Day is both seductive and compelling. ‘Glenrio’ invites us to a rusty locale where one can only leave with bloody knuckles. Snow falls slowly over the gentle ‘Seasoned Lovers,’ which also features a stunning vocal performance by Ron Sexsmith. McClelland’s virtuosity as a lyricist is best illustrated in ‘When the Lights Went Off In Hogtown,’ which immortalizes the Toronto blackout of 2003 with a playful and surreal command of imagery. Melissa’s song crafting skills have not gone unnoticed south of the border, where ‘Passenger 24’ from the album Thumbelina’s One Night Stand captured the title of ‘Best Americana Song’ at the Independent Music Awards.
It is the timelessness and sheer beauty of McClelland’s voice that holds our hand throughout the album, courting us with the colour of its countries. Beyond the vintage guitar tones and retro feel of the album, it is Melissa’s classic, ageless, brazenly genre-flouting voice that enraptures. Her impressive on-stage backing vocal history attests to this pure talent; Melissa has been invited to sing with Jesse Cook, Sarah McLachlan, and Luke Doucet, and was the single guest vocal appearance on Blue Rodeo’s lauded Live at Massey Hall (2008).
Melissa McClelland has constructed an album that closes and opens as though it were a season. Victoria Day is a work constituted of anthems and odes, of harlequins and hymnals, penned by a quiet poet in a corner of the bar. The songs rendered on this recording extend their hands and lean against the May wind as though the world were their shoulder. “Today is Victoria Day,” they say. “Enjoy yourselves.”
Melissa McClelland singer/songwriter