No Deal is the new album from Melanie de Biasio, released April 28th on Play It Again Sam. Album of the week recently on Gilles Peterson’s influential BBC 6 Music show, No Deal has already achieved Gold status in her native Belgium, and is fast approaching Silver in France.
Originally from Charleroi and currently based in Brussels, De Biasio is a classically trained flautist and the former singer in a jazz trio, though hers is not the jazz of hotel lobbies and lounge bars. De Biasio’s semi-improvised, avant-garde, minimalist approach to the genre will reward any music-lover willing to take the time to immerse themselves in No Deal. The album should appeal to fans of late-period Talk Talk, who’s Mark Hollis is a huge figure for De Biasio. She also cites Frank Zappa and Pink Floyd as formative influences, plus Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln, two icons of the civic rights fight and spokeswomen of an aggressive jazz stripped of any affectation.
No Deal comes in at 33 and a third minutes and contains just seven songs, through which De Biasio’s voice drifts gracefully, at times disappearing altogether. With Pascal Paulus on boisterous keyboards, Pascal Mohy on classical piano, and Dre Pallemaerts on drums, De Biasio has streamlined everything to give more space to her extraordinary vocals. She has been called the Belgian Billie Holiday, and there is something delicately haunting about her voice, something in her delivery which compels you to listen.
There is a natural flow to the album, from the intimate beginnings of I Feel You to the farewell note of With All My Love. The final song intimates the reconciliatory, redemptive powers of song, the calm after the storm, yet bristling with emotion, a ‘frisson‘, as they say in French.
Veteran American jazz DJ Dave Wade nicely described Melanie’s lyrics as delphic and direct. Even when her voice disappears into the shadows and mesmeric piano and percussion guide us through to the end, we keep on listening so very closely. Rarely has a record unfurled as many dark beauties and hidden luminescence, speaking a thousand musical languages while remaining completely accessible, being attractive and disconcerting at the same time.
Melanie will support Nick Mulvey at The Scala on Tuesday 11th March. Look out for news of more UK dates soon.
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