In today’s music industry, there are many hidden gems that lie beneath a surface filled with sugary sweet but manufactured pop acts. It is rare to find an artist that is 100% themself, with lyrics that inspire and a voice that stirs the soul. Ingrid Michaelson is one of these hidden gems. Though her music may be well known, heard across television and occasionally on the radio, including the poppy “Maybe” and “The Way I Am”, Michaelson, a New York-based singer-songwriter, generally goes unnoticed. However, with her newest album Lights Out and a stellar new single entitled “Girls Chase Boys,” Michaelson certainly has begun to get the recognition she deserves.
As a fan of Michaelson, I looked forward to this new album for months, anticipating new music and her upcoming tour. I expected great, but what she provided far exceeded my expectations. What Michaelson has produced is nothing short of spectacular.
The album starts out with the upbeat tune “Home.” The title hooked me immediately. With an electrifying feel to it, the song showcases Michaelson’s angelic voice. The song has a nostalgic feel to it, probably representing the meaning of the song: there’s no place like home.
Next up is the smash single from the album, “Girls Chase Boys.” Catchy, fun and road trip-worthy are only a few ways of describing this incredible song. It’s addictive and if the melody doesn’t hook you, the lyrics absolutely will. “All the broken hearts in the world still beat, let’s not make it harder than it has to be. It’s all the same thing, girls chase boys chase girls,” sings Michaelson. The song has earned its place as a love anthem. Everybody searches for love and everybody gets hurt by love. Love is for everyone, a powerful message in today’s society.
Michaelson’s husband Greg Laswell joins her for “Wonderful Unknown.” The song starts out with pulsating drums and immediately draws you in a piano melody. Though the song is rather slow compared to the electric “Girls Chase Boys” is does a wonderful job of allowing Michaelson to show off her exquisite voice and musical chemistry with Laswell. It is a sweet touch when you consider that she is duetting with her husband.
“You Got Me,” another sweet uptempo tune, features musician Storyman. His voice is another welcome addition to the album and compliments Michaelson’s music perfectly. It is one of those songs where the combination of the melody, lyrics and beat just awakens something in you. It makes you want to sing along, dance along and simply smile, as much of Michaelson’s music seems to do. The lyrics “you got me good” speak to the song’s addicting qualities.
Next up is the funky “War Path.” From the beginning of the song, you can tell that Michaelson is about to hit you with something fierce. Probably one of the most rock-oriented songs on the album, “War Path” features killer electric guitar licks and her usual sweet voice is sultry and rough. It works. The song is followed by “Handsome Hands,” another one of the slower songs on the album. The melody is haunting and the song veers away from Michaelson’s usual sweet style. It’s different, but something draws you in.
“Time Machine” starts out with a fun piano and trumpet combination. Another “fierce” song on the album, Michaelson sings, “If I had a time machine, I’d go back and I’d tell me run.” It is the perfect girl power anthem, but in classy Ingrid Michaelson style. My favorite lyrics: “You made that bed, good luck falling back asleep.” A powerful and applause-worthy song that you want to scream along to. It is one of my favorites on the album.
Mat Kearney makes a guest appearance on “One Night Town.” Once again, Michaelson has chosen a partner whose musical style compliments hers perfectly. As a fan of Kearney as well, I was quite pleased to see this combination of singer-songwriter perfection. The song is what I expected: fun, upbeat and jam-worthy. Both boast impressive musical resumes and this song certainly does not disappoint.
Michaelson also partners with Trent Dabbs for the songs “Open Hands” and “Ready To Lose.” “Open Hands” is a beautiful ballad with a perfect piano melody and gorgeous harmonies. “Open hands are hard to hold onto anyway,” sings Michaelson, a lyric that is emotional, haunting, perhaps even tear-inducing. The song is beautiful and once again displays Michaelson’s knack for songwriting and vocals. “Ready To Lose” also features a beautiful piano melody. It is another gorgeous ballad. “I’m ready to lose everything but you,” sings Michaelson in perfect harmony with Dabbs. Their combined vocals are as smooth as butter and the notes seem to melt in the air. It is artistry at its best.
“Stick” opens with an electronic melody. It almost reminded me of an Ellie Goulding tune. “Did any of me ever stick at all?,” sings Michaelson. Once again, this song is haunting and emotional. Anyone can relate to Michaelson’s words, filled with energy and bittersweet truth. The song is followed by “Afterlife,” another upbeat tune. It is fun and hopeful. The lyrics are almost the opposite of the previous song. It truly makes me wonder if Michaelson did this intentionally. Regardless, the song is poppy and enjoyable to listen to, a common theme in Michaelson’s music.
To say I was thrilled when I saw that the song “Over You” featured newest pop superstars, A Great Big World. I fell in love with their smash hit “Say Something,” and proceeded to fall in love with their debut album. This song certainly did not disappoint. It is hands down my favorite song on the album. “Maybe if I tell myself, I’ll get over you,” sings Michaelson. Once again, Michaelson’s vocals and music combines perfectly with that of A Great Big World. The arrangement is gorgeous and the lyrics really tugged at my heart strings. Simple piano melodies and near perfect harmonies contribute to this gem of a song. I cannot stop listening.
The album ends with “Everyone Is Gonna Love Me Now,” a title that I found almost too fitting of Michaelson’s music. If people don’t fall in love with Michaelson’s music after this album, I will be truly shocked. The song is a great combination of uptempo and slow, much like the rest of “Lights Out.” Though I truly did not want the album to end, I was highly impressed with the way it did end, a fitting ending to a perfect album.
Ingrid Michaelson is one of the most talented artists in music today. Lights Out is proof of that. With killer guest artists, superb vocals, beautiful melodies and lyrics that truly touch the heart, Michaelson has proved herself time and again. I cannot wait to see what becomes of this album and I cannot wait to see the songs performed live. Ingrid Michaelson has made me a fan for life and this album is truly her best.