Tue, Oct 9, 2012.
There's a cool double bill happening at Moncton's Plan B Wednesday night. I've already written about Liam Titcomb's latest, he's playing, that's worth it right there. Also performing is a relatively new Ontario artist, Melissa Payne. Her self-titled debut disc is just out, and she's a different kind of singer-songwriter. Or, a different kind of fiddler. That's her main axe, and indeed she understudied with the Leahy/Natalie MacMaster bunch up in Ontario, but she's no Celtic player. Payne's a modern songwriter, in the alt-country vein, with the fiddle taking second fiddle to the songs.
Blessed with a natural twang, Payne's tunes are emotional, and go-for-the-gut strong. Lead track Take My Heart kicks out at rock band level, so you know if you're going after that heart, it's going to be tough but worth it. The softer songs get the fiddle, and I really like it in this context, good country beats, and she has a very sweet and true tone with it. Don't Say is a real workout for that sound, and it's a great mix, her vocals, the peppy band and fiddle.
Payne also does haunting really well. Tryin' is bleak and hurting, a little confused and lonely. Take Me Away is more hopeful, but still looking for escape. There's not too many singers who can do the big voice and the small voice, sound as good when she's tough as when she's vulnerable, and do it all with confidence. Plus, that fiddle really sparkles when it comes in. It's Payne's only N.B. show this time through, but hopefully she'll be back soon.
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Bob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).