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Music Review: Melissa Suzanne – Inspirationally Unplugged

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Part of what makes a singer great is his or her ability to take a song and make it a personal experience. With Melissa Suzanne, that’s exactly what makes her so extraordinary. She owns the songs she sings and comes across as deeply acquainted with the lyrics.

On Inspirationally Unplugged, Suzanne exhibits her personality-without-posturing on 7 tracks that run the gauntlet from current hits to old favourites. The song selection is incredible and Melissa hits all the right notes.

The album starts with Sam Cooke’s “A Change is Gonna Come,” a deeply touching song. Cooke’s lyrics represent the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s. Melissa internalizes the meaning and is able to capture not only the notes of the struggle for Civil Rights but also those of a personal struggle within. When she launches into her higher registry towards the close of the song, she proves her skills fluently.

Melissa’s dazzling voice moves gracefully through the Steinberg/Kelly classic “True Colors.” Popularized by Phil Collins, this traditional melody is smoothly performed with classiness and peaceful calm. Her comforting voice eases through the notes, adding extra meaning to the words and giving solace to those in need.

Linda Perry’s “Beautiful” is a charming song and it’s tough to imagine someone outdoing Christina Aguilera’s version of it. Melissa avoids the snare of over-singing that many others likely would have tumbled head-over-heels into and, instead, she simply sings the song with beauty and purpose.

Lennon’s “Imagine” makes a worthy appearance as well, allowing Melissa to interpret one of the most familiar and adored songs in history. With Rick Dale’s gentle guitar behind her, she pours herself into the song and sensitively conveys the powerful lyrics. It is a beautiful rendition of a very popular song and Melissa’s performance shows her bravery and spirit.

Melissa’s strong Motown influences come across in “For All We Know,” a wonderfully elegant song and one of my favourites from Inspirationally Unplugged.

The bold sounds of “One Moment in Time” are keyed down somewhat with Hal Ratliff’s piano, as Melissa tackles the big Hammond & Bettis track softly. Instead of gunning through the song with reckless abandon, she paces herself and the results are stunning.

The final song on the record is a lovely version of “Amazing Grace.” As with the other tracks on Inspirationally Unplugged, Melissa’s control is instantly apparent. Her voice is organic enough that it carries on its own and her natural evasion of trickery helps make her a terrific singer.

Overall, Inspirationally Unplugged is a charming package of music from an up-and-coming singer. It is hard to resist her straightforward take on classic songs, as her ability to transform the familiar melodies into her own visions is certainly remarkable. Melissa Suzanne is a rising star. 

Inspirationally Unplugged is available for purchase at her official website. More information is also available on her MySpace page.

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About Jordan Richardson