As a man approaching middle age I often find that I’m not surprised by anything anymore. I know that as the world turns the handle of the proverbial jack-in-the-box long enough a clown is going to pop out and I’m not going to be scared by it. In the same respect I often find myself nonplussed by most of what is called art these days. Call it a coming to terms with my curmudgeonhood if you’d like but I just think most of what is done today is just made for the moment, not very good, and will soon be replaced by more of the same junk. However, every once in a while, there’s something that I see that may have a bit of a half-life, a bit of staying power. I felt this way upon listening to Thirteen by the Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Melody, who is in fact just fourteen years old.
Thirteen is Melody’s first record of stripped down, indie pop on which she plays piano, ukulele and sings in a sweet voice that reminded me a bit of her more established indie-pop forebears such as Frankie Cosmos’ Greta Cline and the Japanese House’s Amber Bain, both of whom have at least a decade’s worth of life experience on Melody, which is just another feather in this young girl’s cap as she writes songs and lyrics with the wit and wisdom of a girl twice her age.
What I found most enjoyable on the simple yet masterful five songs on Thirteen was that nothing really changes in one’s perspective on the world as one grows as far as human relationships are concerned. Read all the Freud and Sartre you want, try to make clever musings about the human condition, but in reality, the pain of being human and the words we say only to ourselves, the thoughts and observations we keep to ourselves remain always with us, haunting us forever. These are the depths which Melody mines on these five songs, and she does so beautifully and plainly. She sings the things we have all thought, and all continue to think, about how everyone else is living so much better than we are, and that they must have it all figured out, which makes our hidden pain and jealously burn that much hotter.
Age and gender do not matter on Thirteen, as these songs are simply wrought by feelings we all have had and will continue to have all our lives. Mind me when I say this is the initial spark of a major talent and you’d have a better chance of winning the lottery or being struck by lightning or suffering a shark attack in the middle of the desert before you’ll hear a record this insightful again.
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