April 15, 2004

Test Spin: Melissa Etheridge

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Melissa, methinks thou doth protest too much.

Etheridge’s new album, Lucky, lacks nothing in the way of intensity. From the get-go, Melissa’s pop-folk sound is hard-hitting and exciting. The album lines up one clamorous, unrestrained song after another, ignoring all loud-then-quiet conventions.

The first three tracks are especially boisterous and unrelenting, affording the album some serious gusto. At the same time, though, the album’s untamed, libidinous energy feels overwhelming; the lack of contrast between songs that defines the album makes it at once monotonous and unmoving.

Dramatic, too. Lyrically, Lucky is definitively hyperbolic, so much so that its lyrics are nearly unconvincing. Etheridge’s efforts to write meaningfully about loss and heartbreak sometimes backfire. Lyrics like, “Oh I want to give you the stars/ All that I can hold in my arms/ Placing them where you lay/ Tell the angels they’ll just have to wait,” come in such large quantity on Lucky that they begin to sound banal, unpersuasive, and exaggerated.

Even in the midst of her emotional wailings, though, Etheridge finds at least a few inspired moments: “Breathe” and “Will You Still Love Me” are well-crafted and subtly endearing. These softer, more relaxed tracks are somehow more believable than the rest, and they achieve the sincerity for which Etheridge strives. That is to say, Etheridge gets Lucky in the end.

Archived article by Lynne Feeley
Red Letter Daze Staff Writer