June 24, 2016 by Colin Peterson
On July 22, Chesky Recordings of New York City will release “Little Crimes,” an album recorded by Drexel alumnus Melissa Menago. Based in Philadelphia, Menago has an extensive, in-depth musical background. Around age 10, she began learning classical piano, and has been studying music theory, guitar and voice since. One of her most renowned roles has been serving as lead vocalist of the rock group June Divided. With one EP and one studio album, Menago has had strong success with the band, as it has landed multiple singles on commercial radio along with two music videos. According to Menago, June Divided will not slow down anytime soon; but, she wants to embark on solo recording projects.
Going solo, her style is less rock-oriented on “Little Crimes,” as it combines elements of folk, pop and soul music, giving her music a vibe similar to that of a laidback Adele in regards to instrumentation and vocals. Her voice may not be as powerful, but her enunciation of her lyrics in combination with her pitch gives her a sound very similar to Adele’s. The acoustic instruments also add a layer of emotion to her soulful voice. Recorded through a binaural microphone, Menago’s voice is very raw and emotional as she sings about life’s tough endeavors, which is what inspires the name of her album.
Normally, many small things happen over the course of a long day at work or school that build stress on people cumulatively. This is the overall message Menago is trying to get out; however, she still manages to put a positive spin on her songs’ messages. She says that it is perfectly okay to have issues in life, and encourages her fans (especially children) to “embrace the awkwardness.”
In “Traveler,” the first song and single on the album, Menago sings about the rough endeavors of navigating different places and compares it to finding true love. However, she still sees positivity in every relationship in that song. In “11th Hour,” she uses a clock as a metaphor for her lover to show that time commitments are very important in relationships, which is something that many audience members can relate to. Menago’s “embrace the awkwardness” message is quite noticeable in her song “Airplane,” because she plays the roles of people thinking negatively about things happening in their lives while at the same time playing roles of optimistic people telling them that rough endeavors are always worth the struggle. On SoundCloud, these are some of her most popular songs based on number plays.
“Little Crimes” is available for pre-order on iTunes as of June 24, and Menago will perform a CD release show at WXPN’s World Cafe Live on July 22.