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Mel Flannery Trucking Co. unleashes jazz-pop with confident, beautiful vocals and a few misses

March 17, 2010

Mel Flannery Trucking Co.’s jazzy, keys-heavy As It Turns Out gives a little too much of a good thing.

Mel Flannery’s voice is a delight; it’s smooth, warm and crisp. The clarity and passion of the songs show that she has confidence in both her songwriting and vocal skills. Highlight “Gone” sees her nailing a difficult vocal line and leading a choir through an excellent pop song populated by gentle keys, pulsing bass and jazzy drums. You’ll hit repeat, almost assuredly. The song just oozes charisma.

Other songs feature the jazz elements of her sound more prominently. “You Know What to Do” sees her in come-hither lounge singer mode over a syncopated keys line. “I Need You Here With Me” shows a forlorn black-and-white movies nightclub singer side of her. These three elements of her personality shine, as she has very obviously polished these.

The problem comes in the songs that stray from her easygoing, seductive pop. “(You Are the Only One For Me)” is a giddy love song written on guitar, and it only serves to break up the album in an uncomfortable, annoying way. “Without You” barely keeps its head up under the weight of its narrator’s depression, although it does fare better than “Lift Me Up, Tie Me Down.” “Lift Me Up…” is a depressing, introspective tune, and it sounds confident musically but misplaced lyrically and mood-wise on this album of otherwise slinky and assured tunes. Even “Running,” a tune about physical spousal abuse, comes off with a assured swagger, as the song’s battered woman books it from the bad relationship with little more than a middle finger left behind.

Mel Flannery Trucking Co.’s As It Turns Out is a collection of tunes that suffer from trying to do too much. Flannery has the seductive song down pat, as well as the gentle, lilting pop song. The great success of her hits only make her misses that much more obvious. Still, the majority of the tunes here are thoroughly enjoyable and display chops musically, vocally and lyrically. Fans of gentle, jazzy pop, like Norah Jones, Michael Buble, Jason Mraz, or Regina Spektor and the like would find much to enjoy in Mel Flannery’s wonderful voice and great songwriting.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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