Smooth as silk.
On 6 June 2014, Mel Wilkinson launched her latest single at Farouk’s Olive in Thornbury.
The first thing anyone will notice about Mel Wilkinson is her voice. Soft and clear, it doesn’t fill the room as much as flow through it. And – like silk – it softly and effortlessly glides through the songs, whilst being strong enough to instil confidence.
It often felt like something had been transported from another world to inner Thornbury. A world of sunsets on the beach, unsullied forests and lazy Sundays. Mel spun songs of rivers and mountain ranges and warmth and love and peace. Holed up in Farouk’s Olive with its dozen trees hanging up-side down from the ceiling, it felt that for at least an hour and a half we weren’t in the inner suburbs. We were transported – not only to somewhere different, but to somewhere better.
Sometimes you’ve got to look around you to realise what you’ve really got.
Throughout her one-and-a-half-hour set, Mel covered an impressive range from laid-back hippy folk to high-energy blues and rock. Relaxed reflections on Byron Bay lifestyle formed most of the first part of the set, later giving way to songs with more instruments and even a cheeky Jimi Hendrix cover.
And speaking of instruments, Mel demonstrated her impressive skill as a multi-instrumentalist. Fronting no less than five different instruments, her set included a native American flute and classical cornet (like a trumpet, but smaller and mellower). At her feet were loop pedals (for her guitar, voice and cornet) and the cutest little kick drum you’ve ever seen. Layering percussive guitar and cornet harmonies with her songs, Mel is a true one-woman-band.
Indeed, electric guitarist Marty Stringer lent his sound for a few songs. It added an extra sonic colour, but one imagines that Mel herself could have played those parts with some practice. Perhaps with a little overdrive.
For some artists, the complexity of such a setup and ambition to present such a clear creative direction would detract from the personal connection. Not so with Mel. She was comfortable, present and engaged. And it made all the difference. Despite the musical equipment Mel had to wrangle throughout her extended set, she delivered a show that appeared fun and effortless.
Mel Wilkinson is online at http://www.melwilkinsonmusic.com and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/melwilkinsonmusic. Her new single Northern Rivers Sun is on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/album/northern-rivers-sun-single/id878854827