Mel grew up in a country town in Victoria, Australia, listening to British rock bands like Dire Straits and The Police, as well as jazz and bossa nova classics by Cole Porter and Antonio Carlos Jobim. Coming from Irish heritage, she practised Irish dancing and would often go to Celtic bush dances, yet she also sang in an African Gospel choir, which allowed her to develop an ear for interesting harmonies and rhythms. Her father, Chris Brennan, veteran songwriter and writer of musicals, has also played a crucial role in his daughter’s development as a composer, which started when he gave Mel her first guitar at age 16.
Later, as a young adult living abroad in South America and Spain, Mel discovered the music of Kevin Johansen, Natalia Lafourcade, and the flamenco rhythms from Andalusia, where her partner and creative collaborator, Pablo Rosado, is from.
Despite such a rich palette of musical experiences, it wasn’t until age 28 and based in Barcelona that Mel decided to pursue a career in music, with the aim of highlighting various social issues with her songs. Since then she has released 8 singles. One of them, Searching, was included in the soundtrack of the documentary Un País de Imparables played on a Spanish TV channel. Her single Staying In premiered on Radio National, one of the biggest radio stations in Australia. And the video clips for her songs Oh, coal! and Oceans Rising have been shared on international environmental activist platforms.
In March 2022, Mel released her first studio album, Half Lives, which discusses the dichotomy between personal and professional life, dreams and reality. An eclectic mix of musicians from 4 continents participated in the production of the album, which combines Latin and rock rhythms with classical and electronic arrangements. The album was arranged and produced by Mel and Pablo, who additionally played piano on several tracks.
The first single from the album, The Weaver, released in September 2021, is an optimistic song that intertwines reality with the dreamlike, influenced by artists such as Natalia Lafourcade and Katie Melua. Despite being a song with predominantly Brazilian nuances, the production includes unusual elements in this type of music, such as a celesta, and synthesizer sounds. The Weaver is just one strand in the embroidery of Half Lives, and presents us with the life of a lonely dreamer with great aspirations and no fear of what others may say.
The second single, My Guitar Over HR, was released in November 2021, and is a funk-jazz-infused pop satire on that sometimes overwhelming, sometimes comical feeling of browsing LinkedIn. With a catchy rhythm, in the style of Ani DiFranco or Fiona Apple, Mel mocks the polished profiles and corporate jargon so prevalent on that particular social network, where it seems that business always prevails over our other passions. Faced with so much unattainable talent and sophisticated job titles, Mel decides to combat her impostor syndrome by letting off some steam on her guitar.
In February 2022, Mel released the third single from Half Lives, titled Then You Get Older. After the bossa nova style of The Weaver, and the acid jazz of My Guitar Over HR, this third single presents us with a new example of the varied palette of sounds on Half Lives. It combines the traditional singer-songwriter ballad with an eclectic orchestra that includes cello, piano, banjo and Irish flute. All these instruments make their way into the theme progressively from the beginning, tender and intimate, to culminate in a symphonic and passionate finale. With influences like Damien Rice, Missy Higgins and Mumford & Sons, Then You Get Older is an ode to nostalgia, the comfort of childhood, and the inevitable passage of time.
Half Lives was officially released on all streaming platforms in March, 2022.
Clever yet emotional, meaningful yet lighthearted. Ani diFranco meets Joni Mitchell in Rio de Janeiro.
– Aaron Feder. Producer, multi-instrumentalist and founding member of Alma Afrobeat Ensemble.