Prime Cuts: White Walls, Word from You, Dear Mirror
When Meleana sings, we listen. She has a voice that commands attention. With a tenacious melisma that recalls Natalie Grant in her soaring heights and with the depth of a Kathy Troccoli in her ruminative moments, Meleana has a voice that puts her in a class of her own. This doesn’t come as a surprise as this Hawaiian native comes from a musically talented family. Her cousin is Nicole Scherzinger, former lead singer of the Pussy Cat Dolls and her sister is Christina Brown of High School Musical on TV and also has a hit song on Billboard charts. Meleana herself has quite a staggering CV: In 2010, Meleana was the opening act for Grammy-winning Bruno Mars in Honolulu. She had also auditioned for Duets on ABC TV and within hours she was singing on national TV alongside nine-time Grammy winner, John Legend.
Christian fans who take the time to read liner notes will also recognize Meleana as one of the worship singers of New Hope Oahu Church, the church founded by best-selling author and pastor, Wayne Cordeiro. “White Walls” is Meleana’s debut record for DREAM Records, one of music’s most innovative and enterprising imprints that is also home to Matthew Parker, Satellites and Sirens, and Soulfire Revolution. Unlike her church’s releases, “White Wall” is not precisely a geared for a congregation worship release. Rather, it’s a pristine Christian pop affair with some stylistic affinity to Nicole Britt’s recent effort. Yet, there are two discerning factors that elevate this record from the banality of the countless releases out there.
First, Meleana is not content to allow her songs’ lyrics to gravitate towards the trite and predictable. Utilizing well-developed images (a literary art shocking missing from copious releases these days), she refreshingly and creatively uses word pictures that allow us to hang Biblical truths on. The title cut “White Walls,” for instance, likens surrendering to God as vacating a while wall in our hearts for God to paint His purposes on them. “Dear Mirror” is going to do Godly wonders in the lives of teens and young adults who are struggling with self-image. With language that engages, here is a poignant example: “Judge by the size of my jeans blacks the only color skinny on me/Diets the gym are my new scene still I am feeling so incomplete/Eating and I am feeling guilty Got enough makeup to paint the red sea.”
Second, Meleana campuses on subjects that are going to pay Godly dividends. Whilst many CCM artists are too eager to offer Christianized version of today’s pop love songs, Meleana does deal with more transcendent issues such as taking the time to hear from God (“Word from You”), utter submission to God (“Author”), and suffering (“Hold On”). Perhaps the only constructive criticism one can offer is that Meleana would do even better if she becomes more creative in her songwriting. Many of the songs adopt the same balladry start before exploding into an anthemic chorus. If she could vary her template a bit more, it would make this album even more memorable. Nevertheless, mark my words, Meleana is a name to watch.