Blues-jazz is a genre which has been reborn in recent years, largely through female artists. Michelle Daly and The Brand New Grind’s soulful offering, ‘Melodramas’ EP is the latest release to adopt the seductive sound. While the name of the band may seem a little ’90s for a jazz band, aesthetically, they fit the mould, possibly better than any other band or artist who has taken on the genre in the last few years. Daly is a classic beauty and the band, being gentlemanly pro’s, leave the limelight to the naturally talented singer.
‘Melodramas’ is a delightful taste of this band’s incredible and timeless talent. It opens with Hope an oozing song in which we are delighted to be introduced to Daly’s sensual voice. The alluring double-bass line creates an atmosphere of unassuming sexiness, as is only right in any jazz-based song. Daly’s vocals bounce delectably over the beat of the song and are reminiscent of distinguished songstress Rosemary Clooney’s sweet yet mournful voice. There is no “stand out track” on this EP, all of them are equally impressive and moving in their own way. Settle Down Suzie is the most full-on-jazz track on the entire EP; it is infectious in the truest sense of the word with a surprising up tempo beat taking over the song after a slow start.
Booty Call Girl is another especially jazzy affair and is a quintessential woman’s anthem. It is the kind of track that, male or female, makes you feel happy due to its upbeat lyrics and rhythmic arrangement, not only that but it sends out a great and empowering message to young women. But Michelle Daly and The Brand New Grind are not tied to bouncy jazz numbers; It’s OK is a simplistically beautiful and more modern, bluesy track. Daly’s voice is lamenting and full of emotion, despite the deceptively upbeat track. Underneath the subterfuge of light-hearted music is a devastating tale of a waning romance and “I love yous, we never say”. Another track that errs on the side of blues and not jazz is Seventeen. Blues, traditionally, should tell a story and this track continues that tradition. It is an emotional number that deals with a dark and very real subject, that perhaps older blues tracks would not have dealt with; a teenager somewhat reluctantly losing her virginity in a less-than-romantic way, and eventually having her heart-broken; resulting in regret on her part, and indifference on the eighteen year old boy’s part. Daly’s voice is impeccable here, capturing the full feeling of the song. The EP ends with a clever cover as Crazy by Gnarls Barkley is given the jazz treatment. This incredible take on the pop song is made all the more remarkable because, despite the change in air and installation of jazz elements, it does not move drastically from the original, proving that you do not need to totally rework a track to make it your own.
The EP is an excellent collection of songs channeling the tone and sentiments of their predecessors in the jazz genre, and yet they are not afraid to incorporate some modernity into it, with It’s OK and Crazy. The band is more than just a gimmick which expels mood music in the hope of cleaning up with a covers album every Mother’s Day; Michelle Daly and the Brand New Grind are serious musicians, with serious talent. They produce music that should have been born in another time; you can smell the smoke and whiskey in the mahogany-decorated bar as Daly, hair curled like a ’30s Hollywood starlet, caresses a microphone and groans delectably through one of their sultry, upbeat tunes, as her fellow band members brood in the background. ‘Melodramas’ is a perfect modern blues-jazz EP.