Melanie C has been making a lot of noise in the press recently. This is no bad thing as we love Melanie’s honesty. With demand high for the Spice Girls to reunite for their 20th anniversary, Melanie has found herself time and again having to justify her decision to focus on her solo career as opposed to the much-in-demand reunion. With her reasons clarified repeatedly, Melanie clearly wants to allow the Spice Girls to go out with a bang rather than simply turn them into a cash cow. Fair enough. So what has she been upto instead, the answer is clear on her seventh studio album, Version of Me, she has been rediscovering her identity as a musician.
Unlike her former bandmates, Melanie C has never really played the straight forward pop card in the aftermath of the Spice Girls. While her cover of I Want Candy, which featured on 2007’s This Time, demonstrated her at her poppiest, her more recent releases have explored subdued rock (2011’s The Sea) and musical theatre (2012’s Stages). However it is for her debut album, the rock and r’n’b driven Northern Star, released in 1999, that Melanie C is most heralded as a soloist.
Therefore it is little surprise that for her latest record Melanie has returned to the sound that defined her initially as a soloist. However, it would be unfair to suggest that she is retreading old ground. This may not be a reinvention on the level of Lady Gaga or Madonna, but Melanie C has never tried to be like either of those. She has always maintained her own integrity and personality and simply applied her dexterous and versatile vocal to whatever genre she pleases.
Teaming up with Sons of Sonix gives Melanie C a sound that is current and straddles a perfect balance between winning over new, younger fans and pleasing the wants of her fans of old. As lead single, Anymore, proved, Melanie C is in a feisty moved and ready to make you move. As a result the album is more R’n’B anthem heavy than any of Melanie’s earlier work, but this is no bad thing when the cuts are as addictive as Escalator and Numb.
Clearly aware that her fans crave her emotionally rich, unaffected vocal, Melanie closes the album with a flawless closing quartet. While unraveling will give you thrilling shivers down the spine, these only intensify as she builds to the intense and intelligent closer Blame.
Version of Me is aptly titled. It is definitively Melanie C, but as ever a Melanie C that has not been explored on record previously. This is a must-listen.