Wistful, but hopeful—and perfectly illustrating her vibe as “Mary Poppins with a broken heart”—Melanie Peterson’s latest single “Sunshine” is a breath of TLC for a broken heart. And even more poignant is the fact that it’s being addressed to an ex in need of some heart healing.
The lyrics are full of wise and warm advice from a trusted friend, compassionate and positive—all delivered with Peterson’s sweet, lilting vocals.
Saskatoon-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter/actress Melanie Peterson celebrated the launch of her new CD Anywhere From Here at The Piston last night, with guest artist Bri-Anne Swan opening the festivities. And what a celebration it was!
Swan opened with a short solo acoustic set of mostly original songs, opening with a gorgeous interpretation of Gordon Lightfoot’s “If You Could Read My Mind.” Featuring crystal clear vocals, with a subtle haunting, wistful quality, Swan’s lyrical storytelling includes hints of folk – her latest CD Letters Home also includes a Lightfoot cover of “Now and Then” – and country (opening track “Have You Seen My Ghost”). Her sounds conjure up images of windswept, lonesome plains, big skies and misty, strange forests. Give her a listen/look-see on her YouTube channel. Bri-anne Swan is also the cover designer/photographer for Anywhere From Here.
Then, the main event. I first met Melanie Peterson about two years ago, when she was performing in a line-up of amazing, talented women at ovarian cancer fundraiser She’s Listening II, and I interviewed her last year. Peterson has been described as Mary Poppins with a broken heart. The songwriting is genuine and self-aware, and there is a positive tone even in the heartbreak. In fact, the progression of the songs on Anywhere From Here – which Peterson and her band played from top to bottom – reads like the life of a romantic relationship. From the initial magic sparks in “Truth Talking” and “Fallback Plan,” to words of warning “Where There’s Smoke (Lust Ain’t Love),” to the devil may care of “Just the Right Amount of Wrong,” and into the stall in “Holding Pattern” and when it’s over in “I Miss You Already” – she’s got all the feels. There are also lovely expressions of gratitude here (“A Path Laid Out Like Gold,” featuring backing vocals by Kasandra Sharpe) and love that’s so good (“A Gift” – the CD’s title comes from these lyrics).
Peterson’s sounds feature folk, pop (including a kicky Beatles-inspired riff in “Fallback Plan”) and country, with some reggae flavour (“Truth Talking”) – delivered with lovely, lilting vocals and sweet harmonies. Joining Peterson (guitar, lead vocals) last night – and also playing on Anywhere From Here: Mitch Girio (guitar, backing vocals and producer – he also produced Swan’s Letters Home), Pete Lambert (drums, violin, backing vocals) and Peter Collins (bass, backing vocals). By the time they got up to play their set, the room was packed with enthusiastic friends, family and fans – so much so that the crowd coaxed three encore songs, including “Cinema Girl” (my request – thanks again, guys!) and “Unbreakable,” from Peterson’s Unbreakable CD.
Melanie Peterson’s Anywhere From Here is a heartfelt, beautiful mix of playful, introspective and melancholy. Wrap your ears around it soon.
I met Toronto-based singer/songwriter Melanie Peterson about a year ago at Cameron House during She’s Listening II, a music event fundraiser for Ovarian Cancer Canada. Captured by her cheery yet melancholy sounds, I picked up a copy of her Unbreakable CD – she’s been aptly described as “Mary Poppins with a broken heart.” We’ve kept in touch on social media since then, and I learned that she’s recently launched an Indiegogo campaign for her sophomore album and released the very catchy, poppy single “Fallback Plan” (be sure to visit the campaign page to hear the song). I chatted with Peterson recently about the new record and the fundraising campaign:
LWMC: Hey, busy lady. You’ve been getting ready to record your second album. What’s it called, and what can you tell us about the inspiration and genesis of this new music?
MP: Truth be told, I’ve yet to hit upon the album title. My producer Mitch Girio and I are batting around ideas right now. I’m thinking maybe not a song title, but a key line from one of the songs… kinda like Alanis did with her Jagged Little Pill album title. As far as the genesis of these songs, they come from my daily writing practice. I write one full song a month, come hell or high water, so many of the songs come from this. Inspired by my life, or a book I read or another song I hear.
LWMC: You’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign for this record on Indiegogo. How did that come about?
MP: The campaign came about as I watched friends of mine from different parts of the country having successful crowdfunding campaigns for their tours and albums. I figured if they can do it, so can I! So I began slowly putting my campaign together. First, I had to consider how much it would cost to make the album. I factored in everything: recording costs, paying the band and producer, the mastering costs, manufacturing cost, the costs for art work and album promotion. I thought long and hard about “perks” that would be useful to the people who contributed. Then I asked my dear friend and champion, Martin O’bern, to join my team. This kind of thing is difficult to do alone. He agreed, I launched the campaign and we began getting the word out.
LWMC: And how’s it going?
MP: It’s going really well! I’m almost at 30% funded, which is great because at 30% it begins to look like an exciting campaign is going on, and more people begin taking notice and getting on board. I’ve already made new fans and friends in places like Switzerland and Russia, which is pretty cool. I’ve had the opportunity to reach out to people who have been behind my music from the very beginning of this journey, and to those who are new to my music and have been surprised and delighted by the support and encouragement I have received. It’s a really great process for connecting with people. It is also totally unpredictable. The people you are sure are going to contribute, don’t. The people who you don’t think will want to help, DO. It’s really surprising that way. And I’ve had to battle with my insecurities about reaching my goal, is it too high, do people think it’s all about me being all about me, what happens if I don’t reach my goal… but I find if I gently put those thoughts aside and continue with the process, I am rewarded on some many levels.
LWMC: When will folks get to hear the new record?
MP: Folks who contribute to the campaign will be the first to hear the new album. I’ll be fulfilling my obligations to get the music to them, first. That should happen in August. And after that, there will be an official album launch end of August.
LWMC: Any upcoming gigs you want to shout out?
MP: Always! One I’m pumped about is Monday June 29th. I’m sharing the bill with an incredible Toronto songwriter: Patrick Ballantyne. The show is hosted by Elana Harte and called: M-Factor Mondays. It is the BEST musical way to start your week! 7:30pm. Old Nick Pub (123 Danforth Avenue, Toronto, ON). And the best part is: there is never a cover!
LWMC: Anything else you’d like to share?
MP: I’d like to let people know I’ll be doing a four-week residency at The Cameron House in August. Every Wednesday from 6-8pm in the front room.
LWMC: One last thing. I’d like to do James Lipton’s Inside the Actors Studio Bernard Pivot-inspired/Proust-adapted questionnaire with you: 1. What’s your favourite word? cookie 2. What’s your least favourite word? slaughter 3. What turns you on? talent 4. What turns you off? cruelty 5. What sound or noise do you love? the bubbles in a bubble bath 6. What sound or noise do you hate? hammering 7. What is your favourite curse word? shit balls 8. What profession other than your own would you like to pursue? novelist 9. What profession would you not like to do? undertaker 10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Where to next?”
Thanks, Melanie! All the best with the Indiegogo campaign and recording. Looking forward to hearing the new record.
You can follow Melanie Peterson on Facebook and Twitter – and check out her YouTube channel. In the meantime, take a look at her video for “Home” (from the Unbreakable CD):
And what a great evening it was! I was already very familiar with – and love – Hill, Leonard, Saini and Speziale, and was really happy to meet Peterson and see her perform with her band. And she is also awesome!
Check out these ladies’ websites, and take a look at their music videos too. Heather Hill recently released her music vid for “Stupid Happy” and Jessica Speziale launched “Brace Yourself” recently. Here’s Angela Saini’s “Little Black Dress” (and she tells me a vid for “Something Like I’m Beautiful” is coming soon!) Here’s Melanie Peterson’s “Cinema Girl” – and if you haven’t heard Kat Leonard’s fangirl ode to Johnny Depp, then you must take a look at this singalong vid of “Jockstrap.”
And last, but not least, here are some pix I took at the event last night: