Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Album Review: Melissa Etheridge: This Is M.E.

I was a huge fan of Melissa Etheridge in the late 80's/early 90's. Here first three records, Melissa Etheridge, Brave and Crazy, Never Enough, are still some of my favorites. The raw energy and attitude of those albums were great.

Then came the breakthrough Yes I Am followed by Your Little Secret which both contained the biggest hits of Etheridge's career. For me, it became a little too polished. So I kind of checked out.

Since I'm back into music heavily, searching out good stuff, when I noticed Etheridge had a new record out, I had to check out. I'm so glad I did.

Now, I don't know what she's been doing since Your Little Secret, but This Is M.E. is fantastic.

This Is M.E. starts off with a whimper. The first song, "I Won't Be Alone Tonight" is pop schlock. But then things start to pick up. "Take My Number" takes me back to the first album. Instrumentally anyway.

"A Little Hard Hearted" is also reminiscent of Etheridge's earlier stuff. In places.

Then things really start to good and swampy. The next six songs are Melissa Etheridge at her best. Raw, emotional, real and just a little bit different from what I've heard before. Those six songs are the record for me.

"Do It Again" starts out as a country-tinged ballad then Ehteridge channels here inner Janis Joplin in places, especially the pre-chorus, which is kind of unexpected. There's also what sounds like some lap steel in there.

Then she goes really deep into the swamp with "Monster". Sparse instrumentation, gospel choir-like backing vocals and some blues harp. It's all good.

With "Ain't That Bad" we're staying in the swamp. And it's still all good.

"All The Way Home" is just plain double entendre fun. In a good way. No pink umbrellas here.

The next song, "Like A Preacher", leaves the swamp, but it has classic Melissa Etheridge vocals, like the kind found on the first album.

And back to the swamp with "Stranger Road", which may just be my favorite track on the record. The vocals in the verses may be a little forced, but everything else about the song more than makes up for it.

For me, the last two tracks are forgettable.

Here's the official video for "Take My Number"

And then stuff like this is what made me a fan in the first place. Just Melissa and a 12 string Ovation.

Melissa Etheridge on Amazon.

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