Melanie Marod, Stars – Review
by Rudy Palma
Western Michigan-raised vocalist Melanie Marod has a warm and inviting voice that is like that great cup of coffee in the morning. Tasty and filled with robust ardor. An easy-going AC, folk-country sound, Stars is Marod’s collaboration with vocalist and guitarist Chris Wiser. Reminiscent of a soundtrack to your favorite movie, Stars traverses many moods, but all stay within the laid-back and intimate lane. Never pressing the gas too far or too fast, it’s a ride in the car soundtrack that, in many respects, leaves one longing for more.
Recorded at Downtown Recording Studios in NYC and was mixed and mastered by GRAMMY-nominated Tyler McDiarmid (Gregory Porter, Fred Hersch). An All-Star Band of Chris Wiser (vocals, guitar), Art Hirahara (keyboard, organ), Sam Bevan (bass, guitar), Brian Fishler (drums), Jim Shaneberger (slide guitar), Mitch Marcus (flute, trombone, trumpet, saxophone), Joe Hettinga (engineer, piano), and Max Lockwood (cello) the album highlights Marod’s versatile style.
The title track, “Stars,” is a folksy, bluesy-tinged tune about the glistening of love. Marod’s voice is honey tinged as Wiser lends his balanced and blended backing vocals while also lending his skills on bass and synth. Keyboardist Art Hirahara, cellist Max Lockwood, and Joe Hettinga on shaker lend a delicate and tender appeal to this love song that moves the heart from the very first chorus.
A blues-rock tune, “Don’t Lie To Me,” sheds light on Marod’s sassier side. A slow burn of sensuality reveals itself in her voice as she idles at the thought of being hoodwinked. Talk might be cheap, but Marod’s approach is top-shelf. Joined on this track by flute, trombone, trumpet, and baritone saxophone, all by Mitch Marcus, the tune exudes voluptuous qualities.
“Sorry Song” features Chris Wiser sharing the lead vocal role. Wiser also navigates a blues-rock appeal in his execution. A soulful exchange between Marod and Wiser gives the song an Elton John & Kiki Dee vibe. Tying up the listen with a soulful ending to a thoroughly enjoyable EP.
Marod is one to watch. There is a nuance about her music that makes each tune memorable. The totality of the band makes this an easy listen worth the price of admission. Pick yourself up a copy and add it to your collection. It’s a keeper.