Lee Mellor Ghost Town Heart

Lee Mellor Ghost Town Heart
Being born in England and raised in suburbia in Bowmanville, ON may not be the usual background for an authentic-sounding country troubadour. Now based in Montreal, Mellor has defied the odds with this gritty and convincing debut release. It has already earned kudos in European magazines, and word is spreading here. There’s a literary feel to his lyrics, with the songs etching colourful portraits of truck stop hookers ("Jessie Hynes”), native runaways ("Nowhere, Manitoba”) and deprived drinkers ("Ain’t No Whiskey). His more personal portraits work equally well, with "Tumbleweed” being a standout song. Fleshing out Mellor’s often-bleak narratives is a skilled supporting cast of players and backing vocalist Trish Robb. Pedal steel, violin, cello, keyboards and occasional horns are all employed judiciously, never diverting the focus from Mellor’s voice and songs. His twang sounds just a little forced on "Ain’t No Whiskey,” but that’s a minor blemish on a disc that should appeal to Fred Eaglesmith and Steve Earle fans. In his liner notes, Mellor points out that these songs were written over a six-year period. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what this promising young talent comes up with next. (Independent)