Melissa Ivey was born in the age of the album. The 22-year-old Denver songwriter is too young to remember the days when songs were released as singles on 45s for jukebox and radio consumption. When The Beatles ushered in the LP as the most popular and profitable format, she wasn't even a twinkle in her mother's eye.
But right now, she's working to revive the era of the single.
Ivey's latest body of work will be released as four or five singles, the first of which is "Love and Stars."
"I think the state of the music industry is coming full circle from the 1950s and the 1960s in releasing singles, taking an artist, and maybe going, "OK, instead of a three-, four-album deal, let's just do a five-, six-single deal."
Ivey cites bands like The Black Eyed Peas, whom, she suspects, are making a disproportionate profit from singles as compared to album sales. The Peas' single "My Humps" is the most downloaded cell phone ring tone of all time.
With Hollywood mining the charts, and not hiring individual artists, to create film soundtracks; with iTunes allowing listeners to purchase the songs they like, without the filler; and with big-dollar licensing deals from companies like Verizon, Ivey's business savvy is undeniable. But what about her music?
Ivey is undoubtedly a talent, with a powerful, soulful voice that belies her physical stature. ("I'm a 5-foot-nothing Puerto Rican chick," she says.) Her stage presence shows masterful confidence, and her songwriting and musicianship would send any pre-packaged pop star back to the stylist.
Though Westword named her singer-songwriter of the year in 2005, her music is too dynamic for that label. Sure, there's the acoustic guitar and heartfelt lyrics, but this sound often lies on a bed of indie rock provided by her band.
For the set of singles, she's enlisted a seasoned team of collaborators, including Christopher Jak, whose songs have appeared on TV shows like "Smallville." She'll release each upcoming single at a special party; the "Lovers and Stars" party is scheduled for April 22 at the D-Note in Denver.
Expect all these events to show her marketing prowess. Each will correlate with the feel of the song. For "Lovers and Stars," she says the evening will be a "kick-ass party" with her friends, "local celebrities," coming out and making guest appearances.
"I'm a very visual person, so for me, taking the imagery of the song then creating a night of that atmosphere is gonna be so amazing," she says.
And, just for the record, Ivey says even if the singles thing really takes off, it doesn't mean she'll forgo making LPs.
"I am definitely excited about releasing a full album once the four or five singles go out, and we've got the recognition and hopefully some financial backing behind us," she says. "I don't really think artists are ever really going to stop putting out complete arts of work [sic]."
Southside Johnny's, 528 S. Tejon St., 444-8487
Wednesday, April 5, 9 p.m.