Little Crimes

Music Review

14 Dec 2016
Melissa Menago
Little Crimes
Chesky Records
Formats also available: 24-bit/192kHz DL, CD, vinyl
24-bit/192kHz DL, CD, vinyl

Binaural recordings are made using a pair of omnidirectional mics mounted inside a pinnae-equipped dummy head at the precise location of the ear canals, capturing the same naturally-reverberant, three-dimensional sound a listener would experience if they were present at the performanc. Due to the way the brain processes directional cues, enjoyment of binaural recordings has long remained the preserve of headphone users. In 2012 however, Chesky Records developed Binaural+, a processing technique claimed to make binaural recordings sound spatially realistic through headphones and loudspeakers. Melissa Menago’s debut solo album Little Crimes, released in July, is one such recording to receive Chesky’s special engineering. Better known for being lead singer in rock band June Divided, this acoustic folk-styled live album is somewhat of a left-turn for the Philadelphian singer-songwriter. Recorded in a 130-yr old Brooklyn church during the middle of a thunderstorm - evident from the soothing pitter-patter of rain falling onto the venue’s roof! Little Crimes is a 12-track treasure trove of original compositions, reworked June Divided material and quirky medley covers of classics. Joined by her bandmates, Menago delivers a relaxed and utterly captivating 50 minutes of contemporary arrangements, underpinned by beautifully expressed lyrics that are stylised with a fun edginess and emotional vulnerability that demonstrate both a youthful innocence and a maturity beyond her years. Chesky’s faithful reproduction of the church’s rich and spacious acoustics adds immeasurably to the imagery by ushering you onto its pews to take refuge from the rain and witness Menago’s gently uplifting recital in all its understated elegance. Little Crimes is a little treat both for the ears and for the soul.

Richard Barclay