In case you were expecting some steroidal version of C.W. McCall, Mel Flannery isn't some big, beefy, tattoed redneck rig trundler but rather the female singer Melanie Flannery, and her Trucking Company is a backing trio based in writing partner Lee Pardini's keyboards. Flannery has a fairly unique voice, a very well trained one, a tone that blends the slinkiness of Sade with The Misty Miss (June) Christy, Roberta Flack, and nightclub hipster cool straight out of a Soho coffeehouse. I think what's most unique is her richly pitched "flat uninflected" notes a la Christy against the vibrato later used to fluctuate and blend. It's a basing one doesn't often run across, all the more effective when drama rises in the gospely We're Still Here, splitting Mel up into several parts, making her own backing choir (sweet!). Matt Aronoff (bass) and Danny Sher (percussion) hold down the rhythm section, often with Pardini joining in, sublimating his chords and lead runs but occasionally the guy isn't quite on it when stepping to the front in pronounced solos—only occasionally, but noticeable. More time in the woodshed, I suspect, will cure that nicely.
But it's the singer who is the heavy commodity here. When I say she's "surprising", I'm not speaking lightly, Melanie Flannery is a pro right out of the gate and wouldn't be at all out of place in a Blue Note gig. Then there's the smoldering sensuality of You Know What to Do and revelatory ambivalence of Lift Me Up, Tie Me Down and life in the wrong relationships. The lyrics, all written by Flannery, draw the listener right in, but it's that extremely West Coast Cool way of her voice and phrasing that most enthrallingly takes all and sundry to a place we'd thought long lost.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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