I thought I heard Melissa Bollea’s voice before. The first time I played this CD, it triggered a vague memory, like a familiar scent when you enter a room you’ve never been in before. It was during the second cut, “I Love the Music,” that it finally hit me. There is a slight resemblance to a young Dolly Parton in her vocals, which also explains why many of her songs sound like country music when they really aren’t.
Bollea’s music is best described as modern easy listening; it has a gentle touch, both musically and lyrically, yet it’s far slicker than her predecessors from the ’70s and ’80s, which was the height of soft rock as a commercial force. “For You” and “The Greatest Man I Know” are both propelled by piano, and their uplifting words are completely opposite of the hopelessness that is choking much of today’s popular music. They also represent different takes on the same subject: God. In “For You,” Bollea takes a subtle approach, not naming God at all. However, as you listen to the rest of the LP, it becomes obvious who Bollea is singing about in lines such as, “Friends all say I’m not the same/since you came along.” She’s twisting the cliché of finding a new love, because in this case she is not writing about a man. In “The Greatest Man I Know,” she names the object of her devotion.
Christian albums can polarize listeners, but this certainly has mass appeal. It’s worth it alone for “Pretty In Blue,” a moving tribute to the survivors of 9/11.
Melissa Bollea: www.melissabollea.com