Bit of a delay with this pass on of a review of a current release, Tendavillage EP A Tenda Universe....
I had a recent conversation with Kate Melvina, lead singer/writer/producer of Calgary's Tendavillage about her new EP to be released on Nov 26, A Tenda Universe.
Below is the EP review resulting from our conversation.
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Review of Tenda Village EP A Tenda Universe
Kate Melvina curls up in the corner of a thick couch, a Griffin tattoo curling up one arm and her cuddly orange and white cat Willis claiming the space on the other. It’s a sunny but cool late fall afternoon in the foothills west of Calgary and we’re talking neo-soul music.
“There are some playful moments, but I wrote many of these songs during a dark period, you could say.”
“The pandemic didn’t bring much light to the world, but it did provide plenty of time for songwriting!”
A Tenda Universe, veteran Calgary musician Kate Melvina’s sophomore Tendavillage EP, takes us on a stunningly relatable emotional tasting tour across our inner spaces. Circumnavigation of this project leaves the listener sparkling, with every nerve touched, every memory activated.
We spin through the tracks as we chat.
Right off the top we find ourselves engulfed in the pure sensorial pleasure of Waiting for your Love. The experience offers a beautifully balanced 60s Motown groove, exotic highlights in drifting synthesizer runs, a driving beat, and Kate’s honey-smooth lead gliding over a supporting cast of wawa guitar, bass, strings and complex backing vocals.
“The saying timing is everything is really true. To be honest, I’ve been thinking that this song should come with a disclaimer to not do this (a long story). But this is still one of my favorite songs on the EP.”
Mad finds us hurtling through rumination space, still stinging from a recent explosion. The feel is Louisiana bounce, imparting notes of DiAngelo, Beyonce, and Dr. John. There’s a clear edge here in Kate’s composition and production, featuring enhanced rhythmic components of a skilled ensemble. Try sleeping on this one.
I comment that the sound feels bigger than the first EP.
“I see this second EP as an improvement over the first. I put a lot more effort into production elements, adding many more layers to the sound this time. It feels more fully fleshed-out.”
Frequent Tendavillage listeners will recognize the next two tracks. Released as singles in the spring of 2021, Escargot & Risotto and Sprung observe love’s light and dark sides, acceptance and despair, movement and paralysis. The former is funk-driven, crisp and clean with a Stevie Wonder feel and elevated rhythms, delivering notable depth. The latter is dark in aspect, well-structured with a distinct Solange feel, and classic neo-soul character framed within a tenacious, but relaxed beat.
“The common thread in my music is R&B and soul,” Kate offers. “Many have an element of funk and jazz as well. I’m inspired by many genres really.”
Tide provides us with the thousand light-year view on our own personal journey. Introspective and disarmingly melodic, it leaves the listener both uplifted and on the verge of tears. Tide possesses elegant, Jamie Lindell-like character with Moonchild influences and hints Mac Ayres, all in balance, ultimately drifting to infinity at its close.
At the EP’s end we embark on a frantic spin around Mac’s Galaxy. The bonds of close siblings are unbreakable through time or space, or crazy rhythmic changes, or soaring synth solos. Mac’s Galaxy, dedicated to Kate’s big brother, is an explosion of joy and fun. It is expansive and complex with spicy jazz ingredients, sparkles, pops, fizz and flavors enhanced by a next wave, new world style and character.
Where Tendavillage’s self-titled premier EP celebrated life through fun and frivolity, A Tenda Universe serves as Kate’s rite of passage into a thematically broader, richer place, experienced through skillful and challenging composition, arrangement, and production.
“This is why I idolize Stevie Wonder so much. He just had so many different influences and so many flavors running through his music. I honestly think that’s the way to do it.”
“I just write from the heart. I guess we’ll see if it’s commercial.”
I say that the universe is her oyster.