Melwood Cutlery is a Canadian roots performer who parlays bluesy rock and country inspired music. He’s played festivals and venues across Canada and the US, from Dawson City, Yukon to Austin, Texas. Drawing on three decades of wide ranging influence, his lyrics and the stories they tell cover a lot of territory – from his Ottawa Valley roots to the ancestral “Hills of Aberdeen”. Melwood has an astonishing voice, both deep and tenor, often utilizing falsetto in his own inimitable style. In addition he has been known to yodel or scat as the occasion demands.
Writing most of his own material, Melwood Cutlery plays guitar, piano, and harmonica, (and a bit of mandolin) both in his appearances as a solo artist and as the frontman for his band, “The Fashion Plates” featuring Fred Guignon, guitar, dobro and lap steel.
Melwoods’ music features a sprinkling of blues and a pinch of jazz, offering cheeky songs such as “Moonlight Motel” (“everybody has something to sell”), the powerful imagery of “Aeroplane”, his ode to 911, and social commentary in his take on the trials of “Walkerton” and “Hagersville”.
Melwood Cutlery has released five plus recordings; “Imagination Shine your Light on Me” 1988, a collection of pop/rock songs that caught the attention of campus radio stations at home and in Europe, “Overstepping the Boundaries” 1995, recorded with Vezi Tayyeb and his Toronto band at Kensington Sound Studios, followed by, “If It Rains” 2001, Metalworks in Toronto with Ken Myhr, a four star Globe & Mail review describes “a beautiful voice and powerful songwriting” and 2005’s “Campfire” recorded in Ottawa at Little Bullhorn Studios, a song from that album “Ballad of the Moonlight Lady” received an OCFF “Songs from the Heart” award. and his latest “Home in the Country” 2013, which includes “Alida” (his ode to a local barmaid) which prompted, “the hippest songwriter around” from David Francey, Scottish Canadian singer songwriter.
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Tickets for Melwood Cutlery with Long Sault Trio at MERA on May 14 are available for $25 plus fees at Tickets Please
.Praise for MELWOOD’s album Campfire (Borealis Records)
“Boasting one of the most recognizable voices on the Canadian roots scene, Ottawa native Melwood Cutlery works his usual magic on everthing from country to roots-rock on “Campfire”. He echoes Gram Parsons on one tune, Procol Harum on another. Yodels, and good ones at that, dot the disc. Jazzy piano and ballads crop up elsewhere. Song topics range just as widely, from Cutlery’s gorgeous ode to summer, “Loon on the Lake”, to the powerful political indictment of “Walkerton”. Somehow, like a night around the campfire with friends, the elements all gel. Cutlery, now living in Toronto, travelled home to record “Campfire”, which features such Ottawa musicians as Fred Guignon and Danny Artuso, Lynn Miles, David Francey and other notables sing backup. Cutlery plays the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield.”
~ Patrick Langston, Ottawa Citizen | MAY 14, 2005
“For decades Cutlery has been a mysterious, hip presence on the fringes of Canadian independent pop and alternative rock, emerging occasionally in different guises with his own cagey and impressive work, then disappearing again into the shadows, providing his services to other artists as a session musician, vocalist for hire and producer. On this outing, and having moved to Toronto, he has reinvented himself as a rustic parlour singer of sorts, or as a bearded bare-footed composer of eminently tuneful, curiously simple, delightfully wise and whimsical ballads and country-rock songs that have a familiar retro appeal. They manage to evoke a at different times Steve Goodman, Jerry Jeff Walker, Stephen Foster, The Byrds with Gram Parsons, The Band and the Travelling Wilburys, without ever sounding like conscious cops. Too cleverly polished to fit comfortably in the folk/roots bag – a pointed indictment of government mishandling of the contaminated water crisis in the protest ballad “Walkerton” notwithstanding – and too personal and homespun to pass as alt.country – “Last Lullaby” and “Loon on the Lake” are pastoral prayers that could well ease themselves into the traditional repertoire _ Campfire is a colorful hybrid that benefits from contributions from Canadian folk/roots veterans Lynn Miles, Jenny Whiteley, David Francey, Terry Tufts and Bill Garret, among others, but remains defiantly the work of one eccentric genius.”
~ Greg Quill | Thursday, May 19, 2005 | Toronto Star
“This Canadian treasure is finally available in the states with this release. He has long been known in Canada, but for some reason he has not made much of a dent in the US, and this has been our loss. His blended mixture of blues, folk, jazzy timings, country with a bit of yodelling thrown in, places this CD in a nicely blended category. His playing is mostly blues based, with touches of the other modes of music carefully placed to heighten the interest that each song has. He is the writer of all 14 songs on this disc, and some of them are gems, both in language and music interest. He co-produced the disc with Bill Garrett, and it is a disc that holds interest and has some very strong moments of aural joy. He has assembled an excellent group of “Campfire” musicians that enhance this project and get to show off their individual talents without ever taking anything from it. He has a quiet and wry sense of humor and it comes through when you hear the songs. There is a very Canadian feel to the disc, no it doesn’t reflect the Great White Cold, however there are references to Canadian places and customs, much as the John Hiatt talks of “Going down to Memphis,” and all the implied background and history there. This is a good starter disc if you have never heard him, and a welcome step forward in his career.”
– A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange by Bob Gottlieb
“Melwood Cutlery may sound like some chi-chi Yorkville store, but I can assure you he’s actually a living, breathing human, and that his latest release, Campfire, may just be the best folk album you’ve never heard. Blessed with a voice so like fellow Canuck Gordon Lightfoot’s that you’d swear they were related, and with phrasing and delivery not unlike Dylan’s, he’s the kind of artist you’re sure you’ve heard of before you tear the wrapper off the jewel case. From the propulsive beat of Too Stoned and the jazzy Moonlight Motel to the mellow candour of Jimmy’s Room and Walkerton, Campfire is a near perfect set. Jenny Whiteley and David Francey add some backing vocals, harmonizing wonderfully with Cutlery, but his voice and song arrangements are so powerful you hardly notice. He’s that good. Cutlery plays Hugh’s Room Wednesday (May 18). Brent Raynor NOW | MAY 12 – 18, 2005 | VOL. 24 NO. 37
Campfire This album is striking foremost for the achingly good song “I Wonder.” It has all the pop appeal of a Lennon-McCartney composition, done in Cutlery’s laid-back country style. Its appeal hearkens way back to stuff the Travelling Wilburys did in the ’80s, with Roy Orbison crooning alongside George Harrison and Bob Dylan. It appears amidst an ambling set of almost eerily referenced songs. “Moonlight Motel” feels like a restrained take on Rain Dogs-era Tom Waits, with a jazzy atmosphere and tons of underlying menace while “Aeroplane” jogs into Velvet Underground territory. But it’s all assembled around a tightly woven style of roots country played impeccably by his backing band and recorded at Ottawa’s venerable Little Bullhorn Studios where engineer Dave Draves did wonders for Kathleen Edwards. Cutlery is another Ottawa native done good.”
~ Jeremy Milks | Ottawa Xpress | July 21st, 2005
“The title is very telling, but it’s really just a metaphor. There’s far more to “Campfire” than sing-along guitar ballads about pine trees and canoes, but the tracks offered by this CD do have a tone and style that is reminiscent of nights spent sitting with friends at the cottage. Sweet, soulful and sincere, Melwood Cutlery’s tunes make it difficult not to tap your feet and sing along. With a voice that’s reminiscent of Bob Dylan or James Taylor, and a style that mirrors that of The Traveling Wilburys, Cutlery combines profound sensitivity with a playful sense of humour. All tracks are of his own creation, and speak of everything from the Walkerton water scandal to lonely travelers, to mystical locales with unusual occupants. Most memorable is Moonlight Motel, which has an almost mythical, surreal quality. Perhaps the only quintessential “camp fire” tune on the CD is Loon on the Lake, which is definitely Canadian in content. Cutlery’s voice may not be particularly pretty, but it is comforting in a sort of familiar way, and possesses as much character as the tales told in the songs. Instrumentally, the CD sticks to the “simpler is better” philosophy. However, this in no way means that arrangements are dull or ineffective. Ballad of the Moonlight Lady, Makin’ the Music, and Aeroplane showcase Cutlery’s piano talent. Tracks such as I Wonder feature impressive guitar solos. There are ballads, and country tunes, and honky-tonk tracks, spanning the full range of the folk spectrum. In Melwood Cutlery’s estimation, “Campfire” is more than just a musical style, it’s a state of mind. The songs on this CD are sometimes joyful, sometimes mournful, and sometimes haunting. They all, however, possess a unique singable quality and a sense of humour, just as one would expect from tunes played round the campfire. Even without the lake, the toasted marshmallows and the mosquitoes, the stories told through Cutlery’s music encourage listeners to wax nostalgic.”
~Amy Leask, Monkeybiz Review Date: 2005-05-09
“Every guy with a guitar singing folkish kinda country tunes hates to be compared to Bob Dylan. But hey, tough pal! There is a twinge of Bob and a smidge of Tom Petty, heck, Melwood could have easily fit into the Traveling Wilburys. The songwriting is as rich, the melodies as strong and the voice as true as anything the supergroup has released. In fact with such a stellar cast of Canadian country folks guesting – Lynn Miles, Jenny Whiteley, David Francey, Terry Tufts, and Taylor Floodgate – Melwood leads a supergroup of his own complete with a solid studio and road worthy crew. Every now and then a disc comes along from a mainstay artist that is more than just a recording for recording’s sake. Though a year in the making, ‘Campfire’ has the feel of an album that was made for a reason by like-minded artists with an understanding of where the songwriter was coming from. This disc will be a lasting one for Melwood Cutlery.”
~ Chris Martin Penguin Eggs Issue No.26
“The hippest songwriter around”~ David Francey
“I urge you to go and see Melwood, he is great” ~ Lynn Miles (singer songwriter)
“One of the most beautiful male voices” ~ Issa (formerly known as Jane Siberry)
“Fabulous songs” ~ Stuart Maclean, host Vinyl Café, CBC
“Beautiful voice, powerful songwriting” ~ Brad Wheeler, Toronto Star
“… a songwriter of exceptional skill.” ~ Wolfgang Dios, Access Magazine
” As soon as I heard ‘Hills of Aberdeen’, I had to play it over and over again…at least five times” ~ Bill Stunt, Heartland CBC Radio
“… cagey and impressive work… eminently tuneful, curiously simple, delightfully wise”
~ Greg Quill | Thursday, May 19, 2005 | Toronto Star