In the short space of time that we have gotten to know alt-country artist Melanie Brulée, we have taken great pleasure in witnessing her phenomenal journey towards the release of her brand new “Fire, Floods And Things We Leave Behind” album. Having checked in with Melanie during various chapters of this journey, the stage was set to formally reveal and release this new album out into the world; with the official release party taking place at the iconic Cadillac Lounge in downtown Toronto.
Entrusting the opening duties to her good friends and band, The Redhill Valleys, this Hamilton, ON quartet proved to be the perfect choice to get the show underway. Comprised of Tim Allard (guitar/vocals), Danielle Beaudin (guitar/vocals), Chelsea McWilliams (bass/vocals) and Matt Soliveri (percussion), The Redhill Valleys kept the room entertained with their upbeat tempo and lighter brand of alt-country. With their 35 minute slot, the band would of course share popular tracks from their debut 2016 self-titled album, opening with “Waiting,” and including “Either Or” and “Burn It Down.”
Midway through their set, the band would share “Take A Lot Of Pain,” their recent 2018 single, and hopefully an indication that plenty of new material is imminent. Having easily earned the attention of the room, The Redhill Valleys would go on to offer their own wonderful interpretation of the Lucinda Williams hit, “I Lost It,” and with time for one more track, the lead vocal duties would be passed from Chelsea to Tim for “Ragged And Run Down.” We had been wanting to see this band for some time, and the wait had definitely been worth it. With some great tight musicianship and endearing on-stage personalities, The Redhill Valleys are a headlining act in their own right, and we know that our paths will happily cross again. With a brief stop in Hamilton on our return journey home later that weekend, the 2016 album was sought out, purchased, and brought back home here to PA for our further listening pleasures.
The Redhill Valleys Set List:
- Either Or
- Lay Me Down
- Take A Lot Of Pain (New Track)
- Burn It Down
- I Lost It (Lucinda Williams Cover)
- Ragged And Run Down
Following a very short intermission, Melanie Brulée and ‘her Bad Manners’ were invited onto the stage, and the room was completely focused on this highly anticipated moment. Joined as always by friend and co-writer Kevin Neal (guitar/pedal steel), the band would also include Clayton Yates (guitar), Kurt Neilsen (bass), and Adam Warner (percussion). Launching immediately into “I Will,” the opening track on the album, Melanie set the tone early with her powerful vocals, delivering an emotionally charged version sans the wonderful Mexican brass found in the studio version. Following with both “Pretty Wasteland” and “Can’t Rely On Rain,” Melanie would invite Chelsea McWilliams to join her on stage and add her fine harmonies to both of these tracks.
As the band took a brief hiatus, both Melanie and Kevin would take time to share a pair of the more intimate tracks from the album, notably “Oklahoma Rain” and “Tennessee Years.” From a previous conversation we had with Melanie earlier this year, we knew of the real-life adventures on her road trip from Nashville to Las Vegas that inspired some of these compositions, and she was happy to share the tales of “Oklahoma Rain” to the audience tonight. “So when I was on that road trip’s first night, one of the vehicles busted a tire,” explained Brulée. “Cindy Doire and I started writing this song together because the girls in the vehicle that busted the tire were all single at the time, and so we were like, why don’t we manifest a sexy mechanic to at least take their mind off the pain.” With the audience hanging on every word, Melanie would complete her recollection. “And when we were on that border of Oklahoma and Arkansas, a sexy mechanic is NOT what showed up.”
With the return of the band, both the up-tempo “I’ll Get Over You” and French language foot-tapper “Je crie” were cranked out in style, before Melanie slowed everything down with the incredibly moving number, and climatic album track “We Get Lost.” With time for one final number, how could Melanie Brulée not include her always popular bilingual version of the Nancy Sinatra classic, “Ces bottes sont faites pour marcher” (These Boots Are Made For Walking)? With an extended instrumental break towards the close, Melanie offered thanks to her fans and friends in the room, and all who have taken this amazing musical and creative journey with her. “You know, you organize a dinner party, and the night before the dinner party, you’re like ‘is anybody gonna fucking show up?’,” she stated. “And then they do, and you feel really good, and somebody lets you hold a baby before you go on stage [an earlier interaction with a friend].” With a fully engaged audience, Brulée would continue, “So that is now in my rider! I must hold a baby before going on stage! If anybody has any room up front, please bring me a baby!”
And as the boots were walking no more, the audience expressed their appreciation loudly and proudly, bringing the show to a dramatic close. Melanie Brulée and her Bad Manners had the Cadillac Lounge rocking, officially launching “Fires, Floods And Things We Leave Behind” into the stratosphere. If our journey with Melanie had been played out in chapters along the way, the dimming of the lights on Queen Street signaled the grand finale, and that last chapter complete. This album is an incredible testament to both Melanie’s talents and on-going personal mission to spread awareness surrounding issues of addiction, sobriety, depression and loss through the power of song; and we certainly have a deeper appreciation for her dedication to such causes whilst riding a little shotgun on this amazing journey with her.
Melanie Brulée Set List:
- I Will
- Pretty Wasteland (feat: Chelsea McWilliams)
- Whiskey & Whine
- Can’t Rely On Rain (feat: Chelsea McWilliams)
- Oklahoma Rain
- Tennessee Years
- I’ll Get Over You
- Je crie
- We Get Lost
- Ces bottes sont faites pour marcher
Visit Melanie Brulée’s website.
The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.