Melanie de Biasio ‘No deal’ (Pias) 4/5

Melanie-de-BiasioBelgian songstress Melanie De Biasio may just have come up with the left-field album of the summer on this wonderfully individual recording. The sparse sounding accompaniment of her band compliments the voice perfectly and the vocals sound as though de Biasio has been heavily influenced by Nina Simone and parallels with the very early part of Cassandra Wilson’s career are not totally misplaced. There is a genuine sense of intimacy and the haunting arrangements make for some thrilling listening pleasures. Her influences are truly eclectic and take in the likes of chanteuse Barbara and Pink Floyd from her parents collection while her own musical interests have included Abbey Lincoln and Betty Davis alongside Talk Talk. Although a native French speaker, Melanie De Biasio is fluent in English and all the lyrics on this debut album are in Shakespeare’s language. An immediate winner is ‘I’m gonna leave you’ with austere intro, repetitive bass line and utterly compelling sparse drum beats. Another is the flute-led (another instrument de Biasio performs on here) opener ‘I feel you’. There are hints at Joni Mitchell from her ‘Blue’ album on the pared down piano and vocals of ”No Deal’ with minimalist strings. Little wonder that DJ Gilles Peterson has become a champion of her music. If Melanie de Biasio can reproduce this kind of form on a regular basis, she is destined to become one of the key singers of the next decade. Tim Stenhouse