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Victoria Day

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Album Review

Melissa McClelland is the wife of Canadian singer/songwriter Luke Doucet, the excellent guitarist who made his name in Sarah McLachlan's touring band by embroidering her melodies without calling attention to his playing. Like her husband's, McClelland's music is rootsy, with touches of blues, jazz, country, and folk-rock. Since they're Canadian you could call it Canadiana, but it has found favor on Americana stations in the U.S., and the American influences are all over the music and the arrangements. Doucet produced this set, McClelland's third solo outing, and he brings the same attention to detail to his wife's work that he brings to his own studio efforts. All of McClelland's tunes have compelling melodies and a considerable lyrical flair. She opens the album with the laid-back rockabilly of "A Girl Can Dream," which calls to mind the early Elvis Presley staple "Tryin' to Get to You" with its loping beat and Doucet's restrained solo. McClelland sings of a gal unlucky in love trying to mend her ways with a wistful grace. "God Loves Me" is a sad blues that tells the story of a backwoods party girl who flirts with disaster every time she picks up a man; McClelland's understated vocal, an ominous guitar solo from Doucet, and sustained chords from Steve O'Connor's big Hammond B-3 give the tune a moody feel. "Victoria Day (May Flowers)" is a jaunty ragtime tune about living beyond one's means, with McClelland's lively vocal laughing at the thought of the money running out. Doucet drops a swinging jazzy Texas-flavored solo while the horn section blares with abandon. "I Blame You" melds a simple '50s rock & roll progression, mariachi horns, and the feel of a classic salon song. The playful rhythm section complements McClelland's devil-may-care delivery of the lyric. "Seasoned Lovers" a duet with Ron Sexsmith, is a sultry tune of long-lasting love, the tale of a couple slowly driving each other crazy and loving every minute of it. "When the Lights Went Off in Hogtown" is a bluesy tune inspired by the Toronto blackout of 2003, and showcases McClelland's surreal humor and Doucet's Wes Montgomery-style solo. With players gathered from the couple's touring bands, Doucet has no trouble getting a clean, precise sound that lets each tune shine and keeps the focus where it belongs, on McClelland's luminous vocals. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Victoria Day, Melissa McClelland
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