I was so sad to learn, a few years ago, that Melanie Thornton of La Bouche had died in a plane crash in 2001. La Bouche’s ‘Be My Lover’ is one of my favorite dance songs ever – that opening ‘La da da dee da da da da…’ is nothing less than iconic. The music world lost one of its most distinctive voices when she passed away.
Melanie released only one solo album (and only a few months before the crash) and it showcases her powerful, expressive vocals with a mix of dance, pop, and ballads. I’ll be honest here – I’m not really a big ballad fan; they can drag an album down if the artist isn’t an engaging vocalist. That’s not the case at all with Ready To Fly‘s ballads. Melanie’s voice compels you to listen! :)
‘Love How You Love Me,’ the album’s first single, is a sweet piano-driven ballad with a groovy bassline and hand-clap drumbeats. La Bouche’s Eurodance sound is shaken up with rock elements in ‘No Tears.’ A nifty string hook and a rockin’ guitar provide a great backdrop for Melanie’s cool vocals here. Another sweet ballad comes in the form of ‘Heartbeat,’ followed by ‘Oooh Oooh (Talking About Love)’. It’s a stormer of a track, with deep bass and spiky synths. Because my sense of humor is that of a doofus, I stifle a snicker at the chorus lyric ‘and everything that I do – do’.
‘Back On My Feet Again’ brings back that cool guitar from ‘No Tears’ in this neat Eurohouse-inspired track. ‘I Wish It Was Love’ is a melancholy, guitar-laced downtempo song, but the mood brightens with ‘Intoxicated”s funky guitar picking, organ flourishes, and those fantastic vocals!
A dance cover of the Burt Bacharach classic ‘Walk on By’ is the only track on the album that sounds dated – despite being released in 2001, it sounds very 90s. The arrangement is groovy though! A tender ballad, ‘Memories,’ comes up next, followed by ‘It’s Alright,’ a mid-tempo pop/rocker. ‘Too Late’ finds Melanie giving a bad boyfriend the brush-off amidst great rock/dance production. The pop/r’n’b ‘I Apologize’ is one of the highlights of the album, so keep an ear out for that one!
Not counting the radio remix of ‘Love How You Love Me’, the album closes with the dance-y ballad ‘Forever.’ The song is a fitting end to Melanie’s only solo album: it brings together the dance sensibilities of much of her work with her softer side. The result is a touching track, made even more so now that she’s gone.
This is a bit of an obscure album, and that’s a real shame. Take a listen and you’ll hear why! :)