Hello the nobody who reads my blog, Well wait, there is one person (hey Diamond). And welcome to another Not so Cynical album review. This is a part of my blog where I like to talk about music that may or may not be so bad. Or being the operative word here. So today, let’s look at one of my favorite Indie-Pop acts: Ingrid Michaelson. Today I be looking at her latest album Human Again. But first, a little history on her.
With her piano-fueled songwriting, witty wordplay, and slight vocal vibrato, Ingrid Michaelson carries the tradition of the female singer/songwriter into the 21st century. Befitting a musician of the digital age, Michaelson first gained wide exposure through spots on TV soundtracks, including Grey’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill.
So let’s begin with our review of Human Again.
The album opens with the very epic sounding Fire. This is supposed to be a nice introduction to new sound, at least in theory. Here’s the problem I have with this track: during the verses the grander nature of the track works, with it’s heavy use of violins. My problem, lies in the chorus. It is a little to fast of a pace when compared to the verses. On the plus side, the Ingrid Michaelson signature witty writing is heard throughout this track/
The second track, This is War,production wise is an improvement over the disappointing first track. The Problem I have with this track is the writing. The quite witty nature of her writing isn’t shown here and plus there is simply not enough lyrical content here to hold my attention. So, while a decent track, it’s hardly memorable and stinks of filler
Do it now, sounds musically a lot like This is war only done a LOT better. First off, the writing is SO much better. While the message of getting off your ass and not wallowing in grief has been done by others, Ingrid manages to bring a freshness to it. The writing is really sharp here and the production actually plays up to Ingrid’s strengths. The string instruments are here in full force but are used to so much better effect here.
Fourth is our first balled of the album, I’m Through. While this track is nothing to write home about, it’s nice to here something slower. The writing here is a mixed bag as far as quality goes. The verses are really heart felt and rich of decent metaphors to really reflect what one goes through after experiencing an heart ache. But the chorus, maybe it’s just me, but they are lacking a little bit. I know the entire point of the chorus is supposed to sum up the entirety of the song but she could say more then “I’m through with you”? Either way this track is good if nothing special. It just graces pass being filler because of the mostly decent writing and starkly different stripped down production.
Blood Brothers is the second single from the album and is easily one of the best tracks of the albums. Ingrid has the gift of preaching without being preachy. In this call for people to look pass their own differences to see how similar they really are, the listener feels how honest Ingrid is being here. The lyrics are just as strong as ever and the large feeling of the music works great here.
Black and Blue is another well written song. The writing is just strong as the previous track full of those inventive metaphors Ingrid is known for. What brings this track down for me is the boring production. I don’t know but the production is a bit to happy for a track so saddening. It’s a person comparing a broken heart to being punched in the face. Not only that, but the music makes this track forgettable as ever. I seriously listened to this track before writing about it and I still had trouble remembering what it was even about. Sadly we have more filler.
Ribbons picks this album up and actually sounds like a more conventional Ingrid Michaelson song save for the chorus. Stripped down with this catchy verses and witty lyrics that is until the chorus picks up. And when it does, it works to surprisingly great effect. It’s the perfect transition from the acoustic feel of the verses to the more conventional pop feel of the choruses. In short this track works really well.
The eighth track, How we love strips this production down even more so then verses in Ribbons. Accompanied only by her ukulele, the writing is the best we’ve heard since Black and Blue, I actually think it’s even better with it’s use of very clever metaphors. It feels like something of her first LP Boys and Girls which is a very good thing. This is again a favorite for me and I think it shows that she doesn’t need large instrumentation to carry her.
I loved Palm of your hand starting the first moment I heard it. It’s so very different from anything, musically, Ingrid has ever done. It is a very conventional pop-rock song. This is something totally new and it really works. The chorus is catchy enough to be memorable but to simplistic to be insulting. The writing is well down, but nothing that really stands out. What really stands out is the passion she has in her voice, something I’ve never really noticed until now. I would be surprised if this isn’t the third single from the album.
Ghost is my favorite track off the album hands down. The writing is at it’s peak here and is very mature for Ingrid. I’ve never heard her write something so very dark and even in heart break she usually goes toward the lighter side of things. The production is enough to give the song a very conventional pop feel but not overblown as heard on other tracks. Ghost was the first single released from the album and I wish it was the album’s opening track. This best represents the change in musical tone Ingrid was going for.
In the sea is an alright track. Going after the best track on the album it is already going to be a hard follow up but this made even worse by the fact that this track is forgettable The writing is about as good as it was on Ribbons, so it’s okay but nothing really special. The real problem is the production, it’s so conventional that is downright boring. I actually had to listen to this track twice to have anything to say, so unsurprisingly this is filler.
Keep Warm is a cute if forgettable little ditty. It feels much closer to her Girls and Boys days and the writing is okay. I can’t say it’s worth a repeat listen but it’s not bad. It maybe be filler but it’s filler that at the very least doesn’t make you feel disappointed.
The album ends on the great rack End of The World. This feels like what Ingrid was attempting to do with the first few tracks of the album but much MUCH better done. The writing is really well done and the production is grand yet it fits the mood of the song. At first the production felt like a bit to much but after listening again, I can see that it actually works well. After all, look at the title of the song. It’s a great way to end the album and you leave it feeling really good.
So in conclusion Ingrid Michaelson stated she wanted to leave behind her, cutesy and quite indie-pop sound for something more conventional. For about half of these tracks, it works to great effect for the other half however, it’s simply disappointing But, not bad, I feel that this is something that needs to stress. This album is FAR from bad it’s actually an enjoyable listen. The problem with this album is it’s use of filler. It’s almost like she had a concept for a great sounding songs, but her producer didn’t really fully understand her vision. For a good chunk of the album he was on board but for other chunk, I feel like he just some left over songs that other artist didn’t want.
If you’ve never heard Ingrid Michaelson before, it is a decent introduction but not the best. Your probably enjoy it a lot more then fans of her previous works. For fans, like myself, this album has good a enough about it to merit repeat listens but it’s not her best work. In her pursue of maturing she has left behind what made her a joy to listen to in the first place. And that is my problem with Human Again.