Melanie Dyer is bringing an exciting new sound to Australian airwaves by delving into the crossover world of urban, country and pop music.
It’s become the foundation of her latest track, Save My Cents, and features predominately throughout her new debut album release, FRESH.
The title track of the album – co-written with Australian success story, Morgan Evans - was released in February and spent five consecutive weeks at the top of the Australian Country Air Play Chart.
The 23-year-old singer-songwriter was signed to Universal Music Australia at the tender age of 19, and has spent the past three years writing, performing and exploring the sound and style of music she wanted to create.
“I’ve taken the time to find my voice and be able to have the confidence to know how to approach things,” she says.
“I was signed at 19, and even then I felt like I was ready at the time, but I’m so grateful I’ve had these few years to figure out what I want to say in my music.”
The resulting tunes are perfect pop sing-a-longs, but hold a solid core of serious country storytelling and urban influences.
The latest single, Save My Cents, which was recorded by Michael Carpenter at Love Hz Studio, in Sydney, is a perfect example of all styles fused into one.
“It’s a bit of a fun kind of a track, a live band campfire sing-a-long, fun song,” she explains.
“Fans have actually preferred it which is cool, because Fresh is a little more straight down the commercial line, in the sense that it verges into pop and country, and it has a sing-a-long chorus and repetitive lyrics. But, Save My Cents is one that I wrote on my own in Sydney, just sitting on the lounge room floor.
“I wrote it all at once, probably in a couple of hours, and it’s straight from the heart, so it’s cool that people are really liking that and it gives me courage to release the rest of the album.”
Save My Cents explores the benefit of hindsight and wishing she had known the outcome of an experience she found herself in, ahead of time.
“It’s also about protecting your heart and not spending it on somebody who’s just going to rob it in the end, but it can be taken in many different ways. It could be about friendship, love or experiences.”
Reflecting on how the song came to fruition, Melanie says the song basically wrote itself.
“It’s kind of meant to be,” she says. “It’s meant to be heard and the way it strings itself together is pretty amazing, and it’s uninterrupted. You kind of just let it flow out and it becomes this whole story; this whole piece.
“Save My Cents was like that and so was another song on the album called, Up and Away, it also kind of wrote itself.”
For this reason, she was pleasantly surprised when a number of more personal tracks made the final cut that she hadn’t expected.
She puts this down to the realisation that, with their honest and true nature, they will resonate with people and therefore belonged on the album.
FRESH features a consistent mix of originals and co-writes with friends in Australia and also through trips to Nashville.
While Melanie’s been experimenting seriously with her music over the past few years, she’s always been a country kid at heart.
Growing up on a farm in Mount Russell, north of New South Wales, she recalls fondly the hours she spent sitting out in the paddock with her guitar writing songs about life on the land.
“I’m so happy that I had that upbringing, because it taught me how to write stories and create imagery with my words. I had such a lucky upbringing out on the farm and when I moved to the city, when I was 19, on my own, that gave me such a different perspective on the world and that urban-pop crossover then kind of fused in to my music.”
She started going to the Tamworth Country Music Festival when she was 11, and found inspiration in visiting and local country artists, who she soon went on to support.
As she was exposed to different styles of music, and experienced life in the city, her sound began to change.
Because, as she quips, “obviously life isn’t just about sitting on the farm with the sheep and the cows”.
Now, her focus is on making her music as honest and natural as possible, drawing on her own life experiences and collaborating with people as passionate about it as she is.
She acknowledges the “great debate” about altering the sound of country music and retaining its roots, but she’s a firm believer that crossover can be done in the right way.
“You want to respect and honour the traditional writers and creators of country music, and I think we all do in Australia, but the way of the future is to try and bring a broader demographic on board and fans of country,” says Melanie.
“That’s happening with the influence of places like Nashville, and some of our artists who have crossed over like, Keith Urban and Morgan Evans.”
Melanie wrote Fresh with Evans in Nashville a year ago, and since then his own career has taken off, as he gains respect and accolades from the country community.
“To see everything that’s happened for him in the last 12 months is amazing, so we’re all proud of him,” she says.
While she wrote many songs in Music City, Melanie doesn’t feel the need to go there specifically to write, and points out many were recorded at home.
But, being there certainly provided enough inspiration for her to return to Australia with a renewed passion for her craft.
“When I was there I was just so excited to be around all those amazing musicians and producers,” she says.
“It’s so hard, because so many of our great artists in Australia still have to have a day job, but it’s a different ball game over there, they’re (country stars) huge.
“It just made me so motivated to want to make country music bigger and better in Australia and have more people hear it the way they do in Nashville.”
The album FRESH was released on August 18.