A little over a year ago, Melanie Chisholm was selling out stadiums as part of the world’s biggest girl group, her vocals as impeccably strong as ever. The artist’s new introspective collection Melanie C, released after time in and out of the spotlight, is a far cry from her “Sporty Spice” persona. It isn’t a reinvention, however: it’s a rallying cry of self-acceptance. It has taken eight albums to reach this eponymous record, which is fittingly all about embracing every part of her identity. Dance-pop meets soul-searching in this liberating new musical chapter, as a defiant Mel C gets well and truly back into her groove.
The singer, who in recent years added “DJ” to her skill set, has committed this entire compilation to mid-tempo floor-fillers. The sound is deliberately soft and electronic, with satisfying drops and a consistent style that feels fresh and minimalistic without trying too hard. Some tracks lack distinctiveness and would risk getting lost on a dancefloor, but Chisholm’s distinct and soulful husky voice manages to remain at the forefront throughout.
It’s hard to imagine that this established artist, with decades of industry experience, still wrestles with identity. And yet it’s here for all to hear. Lead single Who I Am opens the record, with lines like “you think you’ve known me all this time” addressing a journey that has spanned nearly 30 years, finally ending in acceptance: “When I look in the mirror I finally like what I see”. The album’s biggest strength lies in its raw lyricism and surprising vulnerability; it places its insecurities centre stage and then brings us out the other side in an uplifting flurry of synth beats – such as those of the anthemic and defiant Here I Am.
Musically and thematically, this is Chisholm’s strongest and most consistent solo work to date: from the catchy In and Out of Love, a club banger-in-waiting boasting a familiar retro disco style, to an almost R&B-style Fearless featuring Nadia Rose, where girl power still stands strong in the lyrics: “ain’t no other way to wear your crown”.
Melanie C slows down and concludes with End of Everything, the closest thing to a ballad about the end of a relationship. It’s a soulful and poignant end to a relatively short yet mature and confident record. Music-wise, it’s obviously far from the end, but rather a fresh start and new chapter of unapologetic affirmation for this artist.
Photo: Conor Clinch
Melanie C is released on 2nd October 2020. For further information or to order the album visit Melanie C ‘s website here.
Watch the video for Who I Am here: