Melinda Gidaly,
Quiet Loathing Girl
(My Pink Hand Grenade, 1999)

Quiet Loathing Girl is the first release from Canadian singer-songwriter Melinda Gidaly. After reading the notes that accompanied the CD, I was looking forward to hearing it. Gidaly was touted as having a "smooth, strong voice that holds the listener captive." Well ... I certainly felt captive, but I can't say that I would ever willingly listen to this one again! The tone is rather dreary, and immediately after listening, I felt the need to find the most upbeat album in my possession to restore my weary spirit.

Currently residing in Vancouver, British Columbia, Melinda Gidaly trained in the Theatre Arts Program at Mount Royal College, singing in numerous theatrical productions. This album features a number of previously written pieces that Gidaly has transformed into songs. She also provides guitar accompaniment.

I guess the main difficulty I had in listening to this album was that the guitar and the melodies in Gidaly's songs just don't seem to match. The accompaniment just isn't complementary to the melody; rather, it is distracting. In fact, in several of the songs, I actually found the guitar accompaniment to be quite annoying. This view was reinforced by "Velveteen," a song I came closest to liking. The drums in the background give it a good rhythmic base, and I even liked the guitar ... it complemented the vocals and moved the song along well. However, when I looked at the liner notes, I discovered that it was "Buzz" who provided the accompaniment for this one.

The a capella song "Caught in the Shower" had a decent melody, and showcased Gidaly's vocal talent. She followed the song with a not-too-badly-sung version of the Smashing Pumpkins' "Disarm," though, which didn't really fit -- and the addition of the guitar was not the best decision.

In a good number of songs on the album, Gidaly seems to have a habit of combining a number of disjointed melodies into one song. On many occasions, I would find myself just starting to get into a song, and perhaps even enjoying it, when suddenly the tempo (and in fact, the whole direction of the tune) would change, and there I was, wondering what had happened. Where was the melody I liked? What had taken its place? If Gidaly would simply take a melody and stick to it, rather than wandering around seemingly aimlessly, her music would be a lot more enjoyable, I believe. She does have a good voice with plenty of range, as evidenced in "Merry Witch," and she provides some appropriate harmonies in "In Response to a Meteor." I cannot, however, think of one song on the entire album that I can even imagine anyone trying to sing along with in his car.

There was one track on the album which was extremely well done, and that was the title track, "Quiet Loathing Girl." This cut was not in fact a song, but a spoken word piece, accompanied by guitar (which more or less went with the words, this time). Gidaly has a talent for poetry, and this recital was smooth and expressive.

Melinda Gidaly is an artist with a good, strong voice and a talent for poetry. However, I can't say that I am a fan of the final product of her work. All of the necessary pieces are there -- lyrics, melodies, some instrumentation -- but what she lacks in this album is the ability to put the pieces together into something which will keep the listener's attention.

[ by Cheryl Turner ]