Honesty is a virtue sometimes best expressed through music, but nobody does it quite like the singer-songwriter Melody Pool. The Australian talent returns with her sophomore album, Deep Dark Savage Heart.
Pool takes bold, risky steps, fearlessly attacking many subjects head-on. It’s lightly confronting, but it’s far from a walk in a park. The song “Black Dog”, which has been labelled as the centrepiece of the album, is a brooding and gloomy approach to her past life with depression. The instrumentation pushes and pulls her, lifting her up and out of the dark as she sings ‘I’m empty and aching; my whole world is shaking / And the black dog has sat at my feet’
Her poetic use of metaphor in her lyrics are matched beautifully with the varied instrumentation. The songs sound the same on a complete listen, but are all unique, from the country-inflections on “How Long” to the quiet guitar layers on “Southern Nightshade”. Melody has a beautiful voice that never falters or falls flat, especially on the song “Love, She Loves Me”, a love note to love itself. Lastly, the final song on the album “Better Days” projects hope for the future.
While my personal opinion is that this record is not instrumentally catchy or varied, that would be considered missing the point. The wealth and bulk of the record’s substance lies in the lyrics, something which can’t be said for many records released these days. This can only be described as an expertly crafted journey into a woman’s inner emotions.
4 out of 5 stars.
Aden Beaver: Hi Melody, how are you?
Melody Pool: Good, how are you going?
AB: I’m good. Are you pleased with the reviews and response to your latest record?
MP: Yeah, of course! It’s pretty amazing, and kind of what I had hoped for.
AB: Yes, I’m seeing many four star reviews, everywhere.
MP: Yeah, it’s awesome and amazing.
AB: Well, that’s good. A bit of context for our readers, what sets this album apart from your debut album, The Hurting Scene?
MP: I think that the sound is very different, the first one had a bit of twang to it, but with this one, I’ve sort of grown into myself and kind of discovered the sound that I want and that I love. So, I guess it’s just more me, and it’s based a lot around life rather than just love songs or heartbreak songs. It’s a natural progression and holds a bit more maturity than the last one.
AB: I’m seeing written everywhere that this album is an opening up for you, it’s labelled as a battle with depression. Was it difficult putting pen to paper on this subject?
MP: It seemed quite natural at the time, because I didn’t really feel like I was writing it for an album. I was kind of venting and trying to put my feelings to paper. It came along when I decided to make it into a record, it was sort of where I had to try and confront what I’m feeling and enable myself to talk about it so openly.
AB: Do you have a favourite song from the record?
MP: I love a lot of them, but I think the closest one to me would be “Black Dog” obviously, but that’s just because it’s the most vulnerable and I’m the most protective of it. There’s a lot of songs that I love, “Mariachi Wind” would probably be one that’s my favourite musically.
AB: Would you say “Black Dog” was the most difficult to write?
MP: Yeah, I’d say so. It’s kind of the one I remember writing the most, some of them I barely remember where I wrote them. But with “Black Dog” I remember the process really, really clearly and it was one of the only songs I really edited as well, I don’t edit very often, but I guess I was just feeling a little bit messy at the time, so I needed to go back and make it a little more poetic, to try and flesh out what I was actually meaning.
AB: Is it difficult performing the songs that are deeply personal to you?
MP: Oh, sometimes, I mean, more so when I first started performing them on stage and seeing audience reactions from them and kind of, when I was in that state as well and performing was a bit harder because I knew that I was feeling all the things that I was singing, I felt very vulnerable on stage. But now, it’s just kind of remembering that feeling or just feeling a bit sorry for the person I was back then.
AB: I see. So, you went to Nashville to work with Brad Jones to put together this record. What was it like working with him again?
MP: Oh, it was awesome, and it was everything that I’d hoped it would be, and that’s kind of why I’d pushed so hard to get him to do this record, because I was really, really sure that he could achieve what I wanted to achieve for this record, and that he could challenge me to be my best self. So yeah, I knew it would work out and he’s a pretty ingenious producer as well. There was no question.
AB: And he was eager to come back, I presume?
MP: Yeah, he was really excited to do the record, as a follow up to the first one, because I was quite young for the first one, and I think he wanted to see how I’d evolved as well.
AB: Well, I think he made the album sound a bit more mature, so congratulations.
MP: Thank you so much!
AB: So, what do you find appealing about Nashville?
MP: I really love Nashville, and I know it quite well, I’ve been there so often now. I think mainly it was just being able to disconnect from home, and to be able to focus solely on a record, and not be distracted by anything in my life, because I was in a completely different country.
AB: To get out of your element a bit?
MP: Yeah, exactly.
AB: Did (Nashville) influence your musical decisions?
MP: I think so. It just allows me to be a bit more open-minded and you know, you can get stale and stuck-in-a-rut when you’re in the same place all the time. To be somewhere else where you’re surrounded by other musicians who are a lot different to you as well is really quite inspiring and allows you to be a lot more open-minded.
AB: Yeah, I ask because the song “How Long” sounded very country-inspired to me. I was a little bit surprised, because it sounded very different to your first album. Did you use the same instrumentalists on this record?
MP: A few of them. The drummer is the same, and Brad, the Producer, plays bass. This time we’ve got two keys players from Nashville and I took my Violinist, Cellist, and Guitarist over from Australia.
AB: Will they be joining you on tour as well?
MP: My Cellist and Violinist will be joining me on this tour, so it’s the trio.
AB: You excited?
MP: Oh yeah, I haven’t been on tour in ages.
AB: You’ll be coming to Adelaide on the 29th of May, have you played here before?
MP: I’ve played there a couple of times, played at the Wheatsheaf with Marlon Williams and then at the Gov with Katie Noonan. These are the only two gigs I’ve had there.
AB: You’ve played with Katie Noonan?
MP: Yes, it was on her “Songs That Made Me” Tour with her a couple of years ago. She’s an incredible musician and just a genius.
AB: Lastly, is there any advice you have for upcoming singer/songwriters who may be reading?
MP: Just do shitloads of gigs. It’s the only way you’ll figure out what kind of artist you are and the way you are perceived on stage, and honing your craft, so yeah, I would suggest do as many gigs as you can.
AB: That helped you become a great performer, I assume?
MP: Absolutely, I reckon if I didn’t do as many gigs I wouldn’t be where I am. It’s been kind of what’s shaped me.
AB: Congratulations on your album, and good luck with your tour!
MP: Thank you so much, have a great day.
Interviewer’s Notes: I wish I had inquired more into her state of mind whilst writing these songs when I had the great opportunity to interview her.
“Deep Dark Savage Heart” is available now.
Review and interview by Empire Times music columnist, Aden Beaver.