Reflecting on Melissa Villaseñor’s “Dreamer” and “Safe Place”
This afternoon, I watched the debut episode of SNL comedienne and impressionist Melissa Villaseñor’s new podcast “Laughing With Myself,” and at the end of the episode she said something quite profound. I’m paraphrasing here so bear with me; she mentioned the importance of laughing at herself because the sound of her giggle brings her comfort and gets rid of her ego. Comfort with oneself makes one feel free.
This goal, mentioned at the end of the episode, seems to be something she’s striving for in her music. Melissa is truly a wearer of many hats, The expression “jack of all trades, master of none” has oft been used, but I’m fully on board with Villaseñor exploring many different routes of creativity. She has mentioned being inspired by PVRIS and Sia, and her music sounds like what might happen if Lynn Gunn’s alterego released an album in a world inhabited only by pastel colors on the lighter end of the spectrum. The output is poignant and genuine. I find myself wishing sometimes that there was a big hook to really sell the songs, but I’m glad Melissa is writing for herself and not for commercial success, though she does admit to wating to go on “a nationwide tour with her band the moment her music friggin’ blows up.” (quote source – Spotify bio).
The songs on Dreamer are a mixture of gratitude, musings on the mundane (the happy and not so happy aspects of it), and expressions of a journey to self love. The lead single “Dreaming You Up” makes mention of dancing with oneself—which sounds corny, but let’s be real here: how many are completely comfortable with that idea? I know I’m not most of the time.
Dreamer is a powerpop record that, though being released last fall, feels prime for a summer in quarantine. The melodies and arrangements reflect the summer weather, and Melissa invites those who listen to learn to find joy in the mundane and make peace with oneself in a period when people are spending more time by their lonesomes than ever.
The follow-up to Dreamer, “Safe Place” has an accompanying music video featuring her doodles, also mentioned on the podcast. It’s a simple folk-pop inspired ditty articulating what most of us already feel. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s real and relatable. Music critics might not think much of this song, but this song isn’t for the music critic. It’s for the average Joe/Jane looking for some catharsis in their life.