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Friday, 22nd March 2019
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Melinda Ortner - I Wanna Be Ok

North West Folk music clubs picMelinda Ortner is slightly famous.  Her song, Hearbeats  featured in the film American Pie: Book of Love and has over 50,000 views on Youtube as well as being aired on several US radio stations as well as on MTV2, Showtime, HBO, USA Network and Pay-Per-View. 

Outside of the US, she also penned tracks for the Finnish movie Gone With The River – her track of the same name made it into Billboard Top 100 in Finland.

Ortner's debut album I Wanna Be Ok, ought to see her build on that profile. Of course, the field of pop diva isn't exactly unpopulated, but this release, with it's sharp melodies, honest, cliché free lyrics and refreshingly varied production makes the opposition sound like it's trying too hard.

The instrumentation on the entire album is sparse and particularly minimalist in the first segment.  Wait Another Day opens with just a cello for accompaniment.  That might sound precious, but the strength of vocal performance makes it work. Second up is the title track, with our girl hoping that she'll cope if the long worked for dream of musical success doesn't pan out.  That's putting it simply.  There are hopes, fears, doubts and optimism all rolled up into a package that will be recognised by any artist.

Jezebella marks a change in tempo, with a rock and roll guitar riff leading into a punk depiction of a heroine who looks good, but is a bit of a cow, and just after the half way mark we have the delicious Sweet Little Lies.  A floaty, languid verse with vocals reminiscent of Amy Winehouse, gives way to a hard-driving staccato guitar chorus with Ortner moving into the higher registers.  You'll hum along if you can reach the notes.

Just as you might be tiring of the with-attitude feel, there's a looser style to finish up.  Say Those Things is soft and sentimental with a drum back beat that's almost military and When You've Got It All borders on the epic, after an acoustic start.

Melinda Ortner has the balance right with this initial release.  Her material is highly accessible, but ballsy, and has enough of substance to interest the serious listener.  Half of the tracks have been mentioned in this review.  This isn't to suggest they are highlights.  It could just have easily been the other half.

I Wanna Be Ok is top of the range pop music.  If it doesn't sell by the truck load then the record buying public needs be led away en masse, gently but firmly by men in white coats, and then slapped around when no one is looking.

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