by Mike Greenblatt
she’s a genius. How else to explain songs that I already had decided never to have to hear again being done in a style that I never particularly liked in the first place… yet it turns out magnificent? The only reason it even made my ears is that I was too druggy to actually get up and put it in the “giveaway pile.” Sure, I groaned when I realized that George Gershwin’s done-to-death 1935 “Summertime” was the opener (Janis Joplin’s version is all I can take) but then something happened. Amethyst (MCC) by Turkish chanteuse Melbreeze contains my nine least-favorite songs in the world (thank goodness she didn’t do that awful “Sweet Caroline”). Yet, with the help of producer/keyboardist/arranger Scott Kinsey and the cream of the Los Angeles crop of studio cats, she’s
taken such rotting chestnuts as the British folk song “Greensleeves” (which dates back to the year 1580), Gershwin’s 1927 “The Man I Love,” Billie Holiday’s 1942 “God Bless The Child,” the 1955 Julie London hit “Cry Me A River,” Stephen Sondheim’s 1973 “Send In The Clowns,” Leonard Cohen’s 1984 “Hallelujah” and the Bee Gees’ 1983 “Islands In The Stream,” plus more and turned them all into psychedelic avantdisco with pulsing throbbing basslines, synth-spills, percolating percussion, buzz-saw electric lead guitars, pedal steel country, and horns amid breathy background
vocals that countermand the highly Euro almost spoken-word poetry she makes of the lyrics. What could have been a recipe for disaster has turned into one of the most must-hear albums of the year.