Melissa Ferrick

Valentine Heartache

Record Review by Aly Mase

Melissa Ferrick’s seventh studio effort, Valentine Heartache, is a hidden treasure among a collection of jewels called the Melissa Ferrick discography.

At first listen, a non-Ferrick fan would possibly toss it aside to the “whiny chicks with guitars” pile, on top of Lilith Fair drop-outs. Yet, on second listen, one finds the buried secretes of the agony and the ecstasy, if you will.

After the first spin of the album, I was almost lulled to sleep by it’s smooth and rhetoric melodies, that leave a listener wondering what happened to the rough edged folk singer we used to know and love? It’s a simple question, with a complicated answer.

Beneath the service of Melissa’s Heartache, lies a masterpiece of work, not yet discovered by most who listen. The album, as a whole, is almost like a Broadway concept album. The telling of a story ,of a girl trying to make it not only in the music industry, but in life and love.

It’s a musical romp through the eyes of a fragile woman who gets to play Wonder Woman five or more so nights a week.

It’s the classic struggle for survival that we all go through, strikingly set to the most distinctive and numbing sounds that I have ever heard.

With the opening track, aptly titled “Welcome to My Life”, Melissa begins to tell the story. The scene is set by song, where Melissa tells of her life traveling, singing, and searching for her true love. We follow her life throughout the album, taking in experiences, just as live theater. Live lesbian theater at that. The climatic song on the album, the love-lorn “I Still Love You,” is possibly the best crafted piece of work in the Melissa Ferrick song catalog.

The final two songs on the album, of course, are the production numbers. Where Melissa declares a whole new freedom, in a ska/punk reminiscent version of “E-mail,” as she condescends upon the music industry for ignoring indie-music.

The last song, a cover of Patty Griffin’s “Moses” (from her album Living With Ghosts), is a revival of life, so to speak, where the loud brassy folk singer we asked about early resurfaces and throws it right in your face.