Right now a Spice Girls reunion would do Melanie C more harm than good. A Ringo while the Spice-brand survived, Melanie C is becoming a Robbie after its dissolution. Like the sole survivor of Take That, Miss C has risen from the ashes of the group that made her famous, and is creating a brand all her own with the release of her second album, Reason.
This new album completes a journey that began with Melanie’s debut solo release, the top-selling Northern Star. The first solo album from the Spice camp, Northern Star was stylistically diverse and showcased an artist searching for her “musical voice”. With the release of Reason, Melanie has found a voice and a place in the world that she is more comfortable with. Though its content varies from the dark and soulful to rock-guitar driven pop, this second release feels more mature and unified. Melanie’s distinctive (though far less than Diva-ish) voice adds to this sense of unity, as does the optimism and hope that runs through most of the twelve tracks on Reason.
In this well-produced and catchy pack of twelve there are four stand-outs: the slow electric-guitar and lyric-driven first single, Here It Comes Again, the energetic rock of Let’s Love, the car-friendly guitar-pop celebration Yeh Yeh Yeh, and the simple soulful Do I. Second tier cuts include the upbeat but drumless piano-based Reason, together with the cleverly arranged Water. The weakest link musically (though not lyrically) is actually the planned second single, On The Horizon. Horizon is in fact the closest that this album ever comes to producing a Spice-like track.
But there is also a more positive spice to be found here – in the variety of collaborators that has clearly brought extra life to Reason. Although eleven out of the twelve cuts have Melanie as a co-writer, the other co-credits vary with almost every piece. Production and song-writing partners include Marius De Vries (Moulin Rouge), Peter-John Vettese (Jethro tull), Guy Chambers (Robbie Williams), as well as thirteen other collaborators. Separate lyrical credits are not clear, but Melanie’s personal life resonates with the words she sings. Breaking away from a more negative past, finding yourself as you move into a more optimistic present, and seeking a loving partnership as a reason for living – these are the main subjects that are developed by the Concept-album-like flow of the lyrics. Then Let’s Love and Yeh Yeh Yeh finish it off with an upbeat flourish, emphasising the completion of the 12 step progression, and ending it on a high note both musically and emotionally.
From beginning to end Reason comes across as a perfectly packaged piece of pop. Together with Melanie C’s carefully tailored new image and press diplomacy, it gives her a truly sporting chance of escaping the gravitational pull of Planet Spice once and for all. The more mature nature of this album will attract a new tween crowd, and they – when combined with Mel’s previous fan-base – will provide Miss Chisholm with the foundation for a successful solo pop career for a few years to come.