Melissa VanFleet: Stars In My Eyes EP

A year and a half in the making, the Stars In My Eyes EP by New York City based singer songwriter Melissa VanFleet was by her own admission a test of patience in its creation. But with her unwavering determination the release has finally emerged to show why the time and hard work was so worth well. It is a collection of songs to open up a new side and wider imaginative scope for the artist and a magnetic invitation to her refined and tenderly crafted sounds for all yet to feel her passionate sounds.

From a young child Melissa has had music in not only her heart but mind too, the singer saying in her bio “As a little girl, I used to record my voice singing popular 90s songs and then listen back and critique every single note and write down what I thought I could improve on,” she recalls. “It was my idea of fun at the time but I never realized how much I was actually learning through the process.” A self confessed perfectionist, Melissa worked with and experienced different expressions of music through time alongside pop and R&B producers in New York City and New Jersey, moving and living in Nashville for four years where she honed her songwriting and style, and performing regularly at places such as The Bluebird Cafe and Ellendale’s, The Drake Hotel’s notorious Coq d’Or in Chicago, and NYC’s oldest rock club The Bitter End. The self-taught vocalist and accomplished dancer picked up, analysed, and learnt from every aspect and experience to add to her ideas and craft and shape their evolution. This attention to detail is evident on the new EP, a release which sees her moving from predominantly just her mesmeric voice and accomplished piano caresses to a band scenario, the results exceeding already high expectations and offering something pleasingly different but no less impressive and irresistible.

Produced by Joel Schwamburger, who she met during her time in Nashville, the EP brings five eclectic and stirring songs to thrill the ear and light the passions. The title track is one which does just that and more. From its brooding atmosphere and soaring piano chimes the song immediately brings a large presence which is lit by the glorious voice of Melissa. The track opens into a reserved yet powerful rock pop song, its whispers gold kisses and melodies molten manna for the ear. Now complete with drums, bass, and sharp guitar invention there is a definite shift in her music which shouts out to long time fans but a move which with no criticism of her previous acoustic glories, is immense and greedily welcomed. There is a passion to the song which is heart borne and though it never erupts into the raucous energy it at times suggests, it leaves one basking in a heated contagious beauty.

Lovestruck, a song chosen as “Song of the Week” by Incubus manager Steve Rennie on his own website, shows the diversity to the tracks, the song a link to her older material by being an acoustic piano and voice based song. That is not how it remains though as soon the song is weaving a glamour of orchestral enchantment and emotive piano to cradle her as usual evocative tones.  The song further stokes up the fires the fuller into its stride it gets, the orchestral wraps and strokes like eighties pop teases as found in the likes of ABC.

Play By The Rules and Cut The Ties continue the diversity, the first a blues walk through an impassioned haze of feeling which sends tingles through the spine and the second a rock pop blast of infectious and boisterous energy. Both songs capture the imagination from the first notes through to their last but Cut The Ties grabs top honours on the release such its insistent breath and stomping energy. There is a spice to its drive which reminds of Pat Benatar and a pop element which glistens within the sturdier rock n roll intent. Actually though it is a magnificent song, it is one which misses its full potential, though that goes to show how great it is. As with the whole release the production is clean and giving to the great creativity and realisation at work but personally this one song actually calls out for a rawer edge, a surface which bites at the ear. Despite that it leaves nothing less than deep satisfaction and pleasure inside such its might.

The release is completed by a newly mastered version of acoustic gem Martyr, a track which already had won the hearts of her fans and drawn many more to her music. The new version has sharpened an already great song into something of pure emotive mesmerism, the orchestral arrangements the perfect companion to the delicious vocals and piano craft of Melissa.

Stars In My Eyes is a wonderful release which marks Melissa VanFleet as one of the most instinctive and imaginative emerging songwriters and performers and sure to find a whole new audience to add to her already enamoured fans. With great attention already bestowed upon the EP within its first weeks and The Reputation Radio Show providing its worldwide introduction and championing the release weekly, you can only feel the deserved wide recognition for Melissa is right around the corner.

Melissa has pledged a portion of the proceeds from Stars In My Eyes (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence), to find out more about the release and artist go to http://www.melissavanfleet.com.

For an interview with Melissa with The Reputation Radio Show check out the show @ https://www.spreaker.com/user/reputationmedia/melissa_vanfleet_plus_more

RingMaster 16/10/2012

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