By Tina Siegel, CKLU for the Lambda
It’s been a busy two years for Madeline Merlo. The young British Columbia native released her debut EP – called Madeline Merlo – in 2014, spent the summer doing a video series for CMT, and is now wrapping up a tour.
Merlo calls it “a beautiful ride.”
“We recorded in Nashville,” she explains during a phone interview. “The caliber of musicians down there is incredible. To create a little song baby, and watch them give it life – it was great.”
One stop on the tour was Sudbury, where Merlo performed on Oct. 13 at the Sudbury Arena. The performance was part of the Road Trip Tour, with which Merlo was scheduled to open for Dean Brody and Paul Brandt.
When asked to choose a favourite from among her babies, Merlo goes with the simplest tune, “Meant to Last. It’s a really, really sweet song and we decided to do it really bare. (We) left it really naked, and it’s just a very vulnerable song.”
After Nashville came CMT’s summer video series, Decades, which saw Merlo cover songs from a variety of classic performers.
She hit everyone from Shania Twain to Dolly Parton.
It seems like a natural fit for an artist who describes herself as “constantly looking for ways to cover old songs and make them sound new again.”
“I’ve been performing Jolene, by Dolly Parton, this summer. Giving it a totally rock vibe, a bunch of attitude. That one’s fun.”
That’s really what Merlo loves: performing. She enjoys being in the studio but, for her, nothing beats the live experience. “There’s nothing like being on-stage, and connecting with fans that way,” she says.
Even when she’s writing or in the studio, Merlo is thinking about how what she’s working on will fit into her live performance.
What’s her most memorable on-stage moment? She doesn’t even hesitate to answer: “Direct support for Keith Urban. I was on right before him, and there were easily 10,000 people there.”
Performing live also gives her the chance to meet fans. She appreciates spending time with them, and hearing their reactions to her music. She particularly likes it when someone identifies her R&B influences.
“That’s what I was raised on, and what I love,” she said.
In Merlo’s opinion, though, the highest praise is that she’s unique, when someone says, ‘I’ve never heard anything like that.’
If you were lucky, you heard for yourself when she played at the arena.
If not, don’t worry – Merlo is working on another album, which she plans to release early next year.
Meanwhile, keep an eye on her website for updates: madelinemerlo.com