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Melinda Ortner - Strangers EP

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 31 / 10 / 2012

Melinda Ortner - Strangers EP
Label: Ziggy Popular Music
Format: CDS


Melodic, but surprisingly dark new four song EP from Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Melinda Ortner

Way back in the sixties EPs were something of an event. Although almost always featuring songs that had already been released and, for the most part, successful, they usually combined the last couple of singles from your favourite band, but what made them so attractive was that EPs came in a glossy mini-album picture sleeve. 45s in those days came in boring record company thin paper covers so the incentive was there to buy the same song once again. EPs fell out of favour for some years, probably because with the advent of punk the UK finally caught up with it’s European neighbours and started issuing 45s in picture sleeves. Over the last few years the EP has made something of a comeback, but its purpose has changed. Often featuring new songs, there seems to be a genuine place now for the EP; by releasing 4 track EPs between albums we are able to keep up with what our favourite bands are currently doing. It is unsure if the four songs featured on the ‘Strangers’ EP are pulled from Californian Melinda Ortner’s debut album (which has a December 2012 release date) or if they are exclusive to this release, but as a taster to what the obviously talented singer/songwriter is capable of this EP works quite well. Now based in LA, Ortner has been honing her musical skills for some years. With several international tours already behind her (including over fifty dates in the U.K. alone) Ortner is still probably most known for the song that started her career, ‘Heartbeats’. Originally written for the film ‘I Hate Valentine’s Day’ the song eventually featured in a completely different film, ‘American Pie: Book Of Love’. While the actual film may not be top of everyone’s favourite films list, they can be no denying that the exposure given to the song by that film certainly got Melinda Ortner’s music noticed by a wide audience. But if the breezy, sunshine pop of ‘Heartbeats’ is all you’ve heard of Ortner’s music then the first two songs on the ‘Strangers’ EP are going to surprise you more than a little. The EP opens with the title song. Creepy strings and heavy military beats instantly bring some of Natasha England’s later electronic work to mind, and Ortner’s vocals have lost the last of her little-girl-lost innocence it would appear. While the song isn’t as instantly catchy as ‘Heartbeats’, it shows that Ortner has matured both in her songwriting and her vocals immensely over the last few years. It is an odd choice to open the E.P. with as it does take time to appreciate just what an excellent song ‘Strangers’ is and it’s going to alienate a lot of Ortner’s ‘Heartbeats’ fans. But if Ortner is trying to prove a point that she’s moved on musically and is now writing and recording songs with more substance, then she’s been successful in doing so. ‘Wait Another Day’ follows, and again there is this darkness that hangs over the song that again takes a few plays to reveal its beauty. By the end of the song any preconceptions that Ortner was just another pretty face singing pretty pop songs are wearing thin. ‘Sweet Little Lies’ sees Ortner mixing her pop sensibilities with the darker elements of the preceding two songs, and she follows this with ‘Somethin’ Sorry’ that follows the same path. So on ‘Strangers’ Ortner produces four songs showing that there’s more to this songstress than many originally thought and, while the first two songs do take time to adjust to, when Ortner lightens the darkness with her more poppier melodies she really shines. Considering Ortner’s most famous song (so far) this EP would have stood a better chance with her current audience had it started with the last two songs before introducing Ortner’s more demanding yet rewarding darker songs. If these four songs are a taster of what we can expect from that forthcoming debut, we’re in for a treat.

Track Listing:-
1 Strangers
2 Wait Another Day
3 Sweet Little Lies
4 Somethin' Sorry

Band Links:-

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