The Pop Noir of Melissa McClelland

Now that I’m enjoying my journey through a new land called eMusic, they have a lot of added value features for your monthly fee — like free downloads of entire albums! Also, when you sign up, they give 25 free downloads so you can sample song without feeling like “Jesus! I paid for that?” One album I was happy to stumble upon was a sampler entitled  Now Hear This! Independent Music Awards Winners 2007. It’s a pretty good collection of artists many of us have probably never heard of, and there are some good to great songs worth checking out. Case in point: “Passenger 24” by Canadian folk/pop/loungester, Melissa McClelland.

I don’t know about you, but the term “Indie” it would often conjure up images of bands whose music never really pings beyond a small circle of critics and music snobs who sing their praises in print or while holding forth in some quiet corner of a party.  Nowadays, as I sample just a fraction of what’s out there under the aegis of independent labels, it’s clear that quite a lot “indie” music will appeal to those with more mainstream pop tastes, and McClelland certainly fits that bill.

McClelland’s style has just enough quirkiness to satisfy indie fans and pique the interest of those with more mainstream tastes.  With “Passenger 24″ it’s clear that she’s well on her way to become a first-rate songwriter who can craft a memorable song with enough surprises that you’ll be curious to see what else she can come up with.

In some ways, McClelland’s musical style has similarities to Fiona Apple, but lyrically (on this song, at least) she’s less introspective and theatrical than Apple has been the recent past – which I think is a good thing. And if I can be a music director for a moment, if “Passenger 24” made its way to U.S. radio, it would fit best on a “Triple A” format (Like KFOG in San Francisco) where songs with a more rootsy flavor get a chance to shine in the spotlight.

Give this one a few spins and let me know what you think.

Listen to “Passenger 24” HERE


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