Melissa Crabtree is a wilderness guide who moonlights as a singer – or possibly the other way around. It really does not matter which comes first, as she has managed to integrate her passion for both into one career. Her songs travel the pathways of the natural world around her, as her time spent in the wilderness provides the observations which influence her lyrics.
She is a songwriter who is able to paint pictures with her words and then set them to simple melodies. It comes down as folk/Americana music that at times reminds me of the late Kate Wolf and Iris DeMent. She has now returned with her third album, The Day I Fell in the Water.
Crabtree has surrounded herself with a number of able musicians to support her vocals/acoustic guitar playing. The core of her supporting cast is multi-instrumentalist/producer Mark Hallman and keyboardist/backing vocalist Julie Wolf, who are joined by a rotating group of eclectic musicians who fill in the sound with fiddles, pedal steel guitars, accordions, and mandolins.
As with many folk artists, a number of songs carry messages of the singer's philosophy of life. “Bees,” which makes use of Dayan Kai’s mandolin work to create the imagery of the lyrics, looks at the issue of wildlife conservation. “Message from a Soldier” is a gentle song of peace and is not so much confrontational as it makes you sigh.
Songs such as the title song and “Water Canyon” are love songs that are more about personal growth than culminating in a relationship. “Spirit of the Mountain” and “Daisies Talk” allow her to explore her love of the outdoors.
Crabtree's husky voice is a perfect vehicle to present her stories. She is also able to write simple melodies and then add in various instruments that make the finished product entertaining and thought-provoking.
Melissa Crabtree continues to bring her love of nature to her music. If you want to try some folk music with a different focus, then The Day I Fell in the Water may be an album for you.