Spring is leveling out on some high notes when it comes to Indie Music – one album that is placing the accent mark on this season’s music is “Melancholy Fraise,” the 3rd album from internationally collected AC/Folk-Pop band Lucy, Racquel and Me.
In contrast to the band’s previous work where the songs were an eclectic fusion of Adult Contemporary blended Folk Pop (“Where the Moon Never Sets”) “Melancholy Fraise” is an eclectic cocktail of genres spanning from Jazz, Rock, and Folk. Splendidly, these genres are shaken, not bruised, by Modern Pop elements.
With “Melancholy Fraise,” Lucy, Racquel and Me stay true to their threading theme of human nature, but not so much as the typical emotional part of human nature, but more of our actions and reactions to certain events in our lives. For example, how me may cover up past deeds that we are not happy about, or how we project our emotions on to someone else to free ourselves but instead wind up caging ourselves. Regardless of the circumstance, these natural human tendencies are vividly embraced in nine songs:
- Leave It All Behind
- I Am
- What Will I Say?
- Lan Del Rey
- Fugitive Words
- Bird’s Eye View
- On A Day Like This
I will be interpreting the singles that highlight the theme of “Melancholy Fraise” which I translate to mean an unveiling of sad situations. I will explain my reasoning behind interpreting the title as such later, but for now, let’s dive right into the music!
We start with the opening track “Leave it All Behind.”
“Leave it All Behind” erupts with a fluorescent twang guitar that just evokes the image of waves and gives the song that chill-factor, and a persistently, modern, standard beat that mirrors the anxiety felt when an on-the-spot decision has to be made in life. This song is all mixed up with musical emotion and personifies that whirlwind of thoughts and ideas that goes through one’s mind when they are set to place a period at the end of a part of their life and leave it all behind: One day you catch a train, you take a window seat / the ground is swept away from underneath your feet. There’s nothing on your mind, and nothing in your hands, you leave it all behind, your universe expands / Beyond the railway tracks, beyond the Milky Way your destination waits. No need to say goodbye, no need to make amends / Your heart is free to fly, your heart is on the mend / You leave it all behind.
Racquel nails it with her vocals, utilizing her signature smoky/sugared Contralto register on the verses with an addition of parenthetic backing vocals. Such instrumental texture and vocal modulation just elevate you. This song is sugar and spice and all things nice when it comes to Rock-Pop.
Coming off the cuffs of Leave it All Behind’s energy is the 4th track “Until” – a Rock-Folk song about unrecognizable fear.
“Until” features Lucy’s great storytelling. She lyrically paints a tangible picture of the protagonist facing fears and waiting until her saving grace arrives to make it alright: I'm throwing away all the useless junk / I'm swimming back to the ship I have sunk so much to set right, don't know where to start don’t know how to get back / back into your heart / until I hear your key in the door I'll be down on the floor / until I feel your hands on my face I'll be so out of place. The drums and guitars lead this track and adds a level of expectation which has you waiting patiently for the protagonist to feel safe. A nice straightforward track!
“Fugitive Words,” is an appealing Folk track that has a creative instrumental foundation that is so sensually meditative. Phil has built this musical core by constructing it with classical music arrangements featuring violins, cabasa, and a nylon-stringed classic guitar (to name a few). In addition, an enigmatically-executed lead vocal joins forces with inducing harmonies and layered adlibs adding more stature to the track which works well in introducing the song’s character, a female who longs to leave her secrets in the dark, eschewing negativity in her life. The chorus outlines this theme well by singing, “Out of my reach, like scared little birds flying away from my strange little world. Got to let them escape, got to leave them unheard. My beautiful fugitive words.”
Furthermore,the enunciation of the vocal leads is fantastic, and the “E” and “I” alliteration just draws in that yearning effect. The style of the violin’s accompaniment creates a heavy traditional Mediterranean Folk music charm. Lastly, “Fugitive Words” builds its layers with ascending and descending vocals and string melodies.
The beautiful Bossa Nova-styled “Bird’s Eye View” takes its place one slot above the closing track and presents itself discreetly with a Jazz tempo and modern Samba musical footing. Featuring a piano as its core instrument, the song covers an impressive emotional territory with lyrics that illustrate how you can feel unworthy, or as if you are missing something in your life when you continue to look at things right under your nose, or view things just within your small living circumference. But when you truly awaken yourself to the grandeur of what’s greater than you, and begin to see things at another angle, you start to see all that is supplied to you, you are never alone, and you have SO MUCH! The lyrics sing to this fact: Step on the cracks and the world goes under / You cry in your sleep, too tired to wonder / Whatever happened to peace and love and the promised help from above. Craving silence, surrounded by whispers. The middle of summer like the coldest of winters / Whatever you do, it’s a hit and miss so what about something like this / Lift your head, you’re one of the chosen few / See it all instead, from a bird’s eye view / a bird’s eye view . . . the world’s bright blue from a bird’s eye view / a bird’s eye view. Jazz infused leads follow a mellow tempo and dances well with softly dignified layered backing vocals, thus creating a mood-adjusting modern ballad.
What a wonderful carefully laid ensemble of image-driven stories complemented with varied music. Truly an unveiling of disheartening happenstances which befits the title of the album “Melancholy Fraise.”
Both MELANCHOLY and FRAISE separately mean totally different things: MELANCHOLY means sad, while FRAISE, when translated from French to English, is “strawberry.” Still, another definition has FRAISE as meaning a "pleated collar, ruff" (Merriam Webster); yet another definition of the term references “to unwrap” something. So when these two terms are combined, you would think SAD STRAWBERRY, yes? NO! After living with this collection of music, and following the storylines contained within the music, I would think that this album’s title favors the later definition, to unwrap or unveil, and this eludes to a medley of songs depicting the sorrow of one’s journey, or the sadness that one can inflict on other’s lives.
And if a title is such a metaphor for one’s assemblage of distress, then it will not only evoke sadness in the listener, it will also induce reflection and be cathartic for some listeners. This collection of songs serve up a palatable experience like that of a fine glass of wine paired with the right cheese board – there are no substitutes. Every element applied to this album does what it was supposed to do, and that is give an experience, or better yet, a bird’s eye view into the core of the music’s character.
The right chemistry is always present with the music of Lucy, Racquel and Me. Again, each member hails from different areas on the globe, but when the song is completed, the right instrument (Me / Phil) is applied to support the lyric (Lucy). And still, that duo of lyric and instrument only translates the emotion of the piece by being delivered by the right vocalist (Racquel). You will never pick up a collection of this band’s music and not feel a difference once you complete your listening. You will leave with a different frame of mind than what you had before first listening, because the music will continue to live in your ears, the voice will continue to resurface in your mind, and the lyrics will continue to define its worth.
Like I said earlier, when you really want an experience with food and wine, you cannot get around it, you must pair the right bouquet and vintage with the right cheese, meats, and company – it is just fitting. Such is the norm with the music and creativity of Lucy, Racquel and Me.