Melissa Merrett, the worship leader at Healing Life Ministries in Adelaide has released her debut solo album Roar. The album is the product of almost two years of writing and recording, following an inspiration from the Holy Spirit to step out and release music under her own name. As a worship leader, the themes of the album focus on the worshipful and soulful, taking simple aspects of life and reminding the listener to take time to recognise the Lord and all he has done.
The opening track Deeper brings the listener into the album, quietly awakening the ears and crafting a first verse which brings the listener fully roused to the breadth and depth of Melissa’s vocals. The songs are diverse, with the next two tracks I Love You and Be Still Oh My Soul firmly planted in the worship genre. The one constant is Melissa’s vocals – they are strong and soft at the same time. The years of leading worship have given her a maturity that is often lacking in debut releases, with her vocals powerful when they need to be, giving the listener space to join in and becoming softer as the music crescendos into a bridge or final verse.
In the title track Roar, Melissa’s songwriting comes to the forefront. Her vocals work in tandem with the acoustic guitar to develop a powerful chorus of “hear me roar, hear me roar”. It’s clear she doesn’t mind mixing it up a bit, as the guitar solo just before the bridge provides momentum as the vocals begin to work in rhythm in the lead-up to the final stanza. The songwriting puts Roar a step above your average worship album, as the songs are more complex, and helps build a deeper response from the listener.
I Will Not Be Shaken is another excellent example of this – with a weepy guitar intro and synthesizer overlays helps to transcend the line between worship song and contemporary Christian music. The chorus switches from an electric guitar to an acoustic which is a subtle adjustment, but those listening for it will be pleasantly surprised as how seamless the transition is. The following song You Are Everything sits firmly in the worship genre, with a rhythmic chorus, and verses that are easy to sing along to.
Come My Lover delivers a curveball in the album. Using romantic imagery, and featuring Nathan Rowe, it is perhaps the one song on the album that could be interpreted as either a love song, or a worship song. With an orchestra kicking in at the 4 minute mark, it is the best example of melissa’s songwriting talents. Never Let You Go is an excellent follow-up, with Melissa’s voice guiding us into a place of worship as it floats beautifully over a well crafted instrumental comprising of a spanish guitar and piano. We March Forward In Faith delivers another curveball with a synthesized techno-inspired intro, and a touch of autotune on Melissa’s voice in the lead-up to the chorus. The bass runs deep in this one, as the synthesizer maintains its presence throughout the whole track, until the middle where it disappears entirely and becomes replaced by a solo piano. It returns ever so slightly around the 6 minute mark, but the piano is now the driver of this track, as Melissa harmonises over the bridge.
The final song of the album Psalm 43 has a bit of a country feel to it, with Melissa’s vocals having a touch of twang to them in the first verse. The country vibe disappears well into the chorus, as a string section joins the track and the song becomes less country and more akin to a musical theatre or rock opera. The finale of the track is builds up and ends with an epic musical and vocal sting. An excellent end to one of the more imaginative releases of this year.
Melissa Marrett’s debut album Roar is now available on iTunes and Spotify.