Toronto based singer and songwriter Melissa Lauren has smoothly made the transition from veteran swing “crooness” to songwriter. The music - her own brand of old school jazz, Do-wap and blues mixed with indie pop inflections and sounds....very much a product of her early musical training meeting her adult musical encounters. Melissa's latest album, "Your Mess" was released in October to quick charting and radio play across Canada.
The singer's debut album, “The Other Side”, was released in March 2012 to great review. A collection of original compositions, the music was produced by Eric St-Laurent, paying tribute to the jazz and swing sounds that shaped the singer’s musical style. Quickly making a place for itself on Canadian charts, the album offers a variety of classic sounds, mixed with modern pop sensibilities.
The singer’s love for swing and jazz music began when she started performing with the Toronto All-Star Big Band; she continued singing with them until 2004. She had the opportunity to work with and open for many wonderful musicians; Jeff Healey, Gordon Lightfoot, Renee Lee, Henry Questa, Tommy Ambrose, Peter Appleyard, Buddy DiFranco, Jackie Richardson, and Clark Terry to name a few. She has performed as part of the Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, Beaches International Jazz Festival, Markham Jazz Festival and Oakville International Jazz Festival as well as Canadian Music Week, and North By North East. After recently finishing her third Western Canada tour, she is looking forward to Eastern Canada dates as well as Europe in 2016.
Melissa debuts a slightly edgier and mature sound on the new project, “Your Mess.” After spending early adulthood immersed in the Toronto club scene, and working with DJs, producers and different Indie pop bands, she ventured into some from non-jazz territory in her songwriting. Determined not to just be another singer simply calling standards, the tour and album are presented as a cohesive story; transition feel more intuitive. With a central theme of the beauty and torment of a mess, the songs delve into the more extreme sides of emotions we feel when dealing with the fact that our lives can completely flip in the blink of an eye. The first single I released in Canada, “Send Them Away,” was song of the week on CBC radio in Toronto, and has been nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award.
The album also debuted Melissa as a producer and worked in conjunction with the band to create a sound. The outcome is a quirky, more playful sound that tests an interesting balance of darker harmonies and more theatrical grooves, coupled with the singer's signature delicate word inflections. The live show is not to be missed a fun mix of originals and jazz, pop and blues standards stamped with the singer’s brand.
In addition to her own music, Melissa has recently been lending her voice to studio work in the electronic music scene. She has sung on five of producer/writer Hibernate’s recently released tracks, one of which was the opening track on seminal pioneer trance DJ Paul Oakenfold’s most recent compilation album, released under Perfecto Records.
"It's a confidant album with plenty of charm. If you like your jazz outside of the box, this is the disc for you."
Garvia Baily, Big City Small World, CBC
"Lauren has a beguiling voice that mixes sweet playfulness with solid technique, control and range."
Cathy Riches, Wholenote Magazine
"Melissa Lauren is a real jazz singer, good in the way Blossom Dearie or Stacie Kent are good. Once you hear her sing, you want to keep listening."
Stanley Fefferman, The Opus One Review
"Melissa Lauren can sing. And Write...she takes gorgeous risks turning notes inside-out without ever landing flat or straining. As a Songwriter, she's a winner."
Marc Myers, Jazzwax
""I won't rest until I am my best for you."" The Toronto Chanteuse can now put up her feet - she's lovely with her strum my and breezy elegance, which is absolutely good to us. "
Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail