Melodic Miner’s Daughter has a slighty schizoid feel to it. The CD cover looks like an elaborate personal diary that gives the impression of a New Age release. And then inside there is a group photograph of the musicians that could easily pass off as a portrait of a small town Chamber of Commerce members breaking ground on a new sewer line. They have uncertain looks of their faces, one holding a coffee cup, the others grasping tools, and they are all wearing, all of things, hard hats. This David Lynchian touch, if this is what it is, flows over to the music.
As the liner notes state, "purely by coincidence, the tunes on the album fall into pairs, showing five faces of the group; the acoustic instrumental (‘Hymn’ and ‘Always’), vocal oriented quartet (‘My Funny Valentine’ and ‘Caramel’), fiery Abby fusion (‘Freestyle’ and the title cut); two Stormin’ Norman shuffles (‘A Place Called Home’ and ‘Miles’), and modern long form jazz (Norm’s ‘CBC at Night,’ and Garzone’s ‘Fox in the Woods’ composed for this session." The result feels like pieces of five different albums. It is certainly eclectic.
On the first four tracks are called the ‘Canadian Suite’ in which the initial track there is Aronson on acoustic guitar and Zocher on bass. This is a prelude that is sweet, light and, yes, could be thought of as within the New Age realm. This is followed by another unassuming piece featuring George Garzone on tenor and soprano saxophone. Then, there is a gracefully forgettable tune that includes Bevan Manson on piano with Aronson on guitar and Zocher on bass. The conclusion of this Canadian Suite initially features Abby Aronson Zocher’s lovely voice singing a lullaby extolling that "Heaven is a place where you can call home" and then an abbreviated electric guitar wail on ‘Kitchen Party.’ ‘Canadian Suite’ is a bit precious.
Things look considerably better with ‘Freestyle’ and the standard ‘My Funny Valentine.’ The latter once again features Abby Aronson on vocals; this rendition is appropriately crisply melancholic.
‘Melodic Miner’s Daughter’ is, as the notes suggest, fiery and is about as far from the Canadian homeland as one could get. Beneath that sublime underbelly, is there something we ought to know? It is an edgy, menacing piece that is brilliantly performed. ‘Miles’ too really comes together as a piece and features the Zocher’s electric guitar and then Garzone’s tenor sax pang expressing something like: ‘is this my happy home?’
With ‘Caramel’ there is a return to ‘yes, my home is happy’ with Aronson delivering words of life and love to Zocher: "I know you know, that yours is a place inside my heart I can always be sure to find, baby, we can make it last this time." Regretfully, Aronson’s vocals sounds like a Disney movie character. The same occurs on ‘A Fox in the Woods.’