Volume 92, Issue 44

Friday, November 20, 1998

go north


Doane fiddles with Celtic roots

Gazette file photo
OKAY MISS DOANE, WE'RE READY TO SHOOT, SMILE. SMILE MISS DOANE... OR NOT. Songstress Melanie Doane opens for Jann Arden at Centennial Hall tonight.

By Andrew Sparrow

Gazette Staff

"I like to go out and win people over. It's kind of fun," says Melanie Doane, a soft-spoken musician from Halifax who had to do a lot of work to escape the East Coast fiddle player stereotype.

"I want to play my own thing and develop my own sound and I want it to be specific to me. And that's okay," Doane says.

It would seem the public agrees. Her new album, Adam's Rib, is being featured in record stores across the country and the video for the single "Adam's Rib" is in heavy rotation on MuchMusic.

Doane's previous album, Shakespearean Fish, is more laid back and folk oriented – quite a contrast to Adam's Rib. "[My debut album] was me representing myself as best I could. Being able to reveal that much of myself was really scary at the time. This time, I was willing to take a lot more risks. I think maybe I've been polite or safe in the past and it bores me now. I'd rather just sing what I think," she explains.

Not only does she sing, but she also plays the violin, the mandolin, the guitar and the piano. A lot of this came from an upbringing full of music. "It wasn't so much about getting up in front of people, it was more just about enjoying the really good sound and how connected people can be with each other without talking, just playing," she explains. "That's a beautiful thing to learn and grow up with."

With the violin featured on all of the new album's tracks, it's not entirely surprising the back of the album cover shows Doane's naked back with a violin resting against her spine. This was her own design and she finds it representative of her thoughts towards the lyrics.

"I'm exposing myself here in ways that I never dared to before. I also wanted to use the violin in a way that would be different than people are used to because I think I'm using the violin in different ways," she states.

The lyrics of Adam's Rib are extremely evocative and heartfelt. Doane explains writing them was a small part of a much larger cathartic process. "They come from things that I experience and things I want to express, so I'm drawing on my own life," Doane says. "I'm trying to achieve something beyond myself and hopefully create a place where we can meet in the song. I believe this record is about being human and the limitations we all have in common.

"In writing the songs, the lyrics came first and they informed the music. I feel like anything that was ever pent up inside of me exploded out into the songs and music and that's where I'm coming from."

Being from the East Coast has also greatly influenced Doane and she speaks freely and fondly of her roots. "Leaving home showed me the realness of what it's like to be [in the East] and what it's like to live there," she postulates. "It's very hard not to be real. Whenever I have a doubt about something, I go home and sit on a big rock and look at the ocean and that tells me a lot. For me, that point of reference is really important."

However, don't go looking for her album in the Celtic section of the music store.

"Put my album in the pop bin and keep me out of the Celtic please, because I don't belong there. Not that I don't like it, because I love it, but that's not what I do."

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998