Melissa Etheridge knows what's up. She's got incredible songwriting skills and just rocks in general. The 90s was her heyday, releasing singles like "I Want To Come Over" "Come To My Window," and my personal favorite "I'm The Only One" (that opening guitar riff is sick). But the 48-year-old multiplatinum artist is 10 albums deep, and still not slowing down. Naturally, I was excited to hear some new material from her. She's simultaneously made media headlines with the recent news that she is separating from her partner, whom she married in 2003. Convenient timing for publicity's sake? Eh, whatever. Who doesn't do that nowadays?
"Fearless Love" is the first single off of the album of the same name. This is powerful stuff. Etheridge compliments her songs with her unique, semi-raspy voice, and the "I am what I am/I am what I am afraid of" already defines the album a minute into the song. Track one is quite an act to follow. Another single, "The Wanting of You," has a pleasant guitar riff that weaves through the song, and as the song builds, Etheridge's voice has never sounded better.
She slows it down a bit in "Company," a chill mid-tempo track about loneliness. I expected "Miss California" to be a semi-sarcastic track about the beauty queen's homophobic tendencies-- and it just might be. "Miss California/What did I do wrong?" Either way, the blues-heavy song is ridiculously awesome, and again shows off the depth of Etheridge's voice. "Drag Me Away" is probably about her bout with cancer: "Did you think that I would simply give them my last breath/Well honey you got me wrong/I'd never leave you for death." Good stuff.
"Indiana" is a country-sounding story that goes piano-heavy; it reminds me of something that Matchbox 20 would do. It's also a single, but probably my least favorite of them. "Nervous" is a fun blues jam. The chorus on "Heaven on Earth" is one of my favorites. "We Are The Ones" is about diversity, and refreshes the sound of the album with some hand drums and citar. "Only Love" is a slow, dreamy track. The sporadic bluesy-build on the bridge is pretty amazing. "To Be Loved" is a heart-wrenching power ballad that leads into the acoustic "Gently We Row," a beautiful folk finale.
This album just sounds great. It is produced and arranged tightly, and the guitar solos are flawless. Etheridge's voice has the same passion and intensity as it did back in the 90s. That's what I was most surprised about. I mean, Meat Loaf just doesn't sound the same now as he did back in the Bat Out Of Hell days. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like Etheridge's voice has gotten better with time. This chick is like the female Springsteen. And with lyrics like "I'm the only one who'd walk across a fire for you," how can you go wrong, really. So umm, hey Melissa, now that you're separated, call me? Haha, just kidding. Actually wait-- yeah. This album might just be that good...