Melissa Etheridge: Fearless Love by Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge – Fearless Love
Somewhere along the way, Melissa Etheridge shook off her Midwestern roots and decided that she was an artist with a capital A, turning out nothing but somnolent somber songs. Sobriety made perfect sense when Etheridge was coming out of the closet or surviving cancer, but when it's applied to a record that's merely a collection of songs, as it is on 's Fearless Love , the results are stultifying. Etheridge doesn't avoid big themes here -- she strikes back at Carrie Prejean's anti-gay marriage stance on "Miss California" and supports Obama on "We Are the Ones," both playing like delayed hangovers, their tardiness accentuating the slightness of Fearless Love. Slightness would be fine, even welcome, if Etheridge weren't compelled to produce every song as a stadium-busting anthem, an unholy combination of Springsteen , U2 , and Coldplay stripped of any sense of majesty, hamstrung by Etheridge 's dogged sincerity and literal mind. Perhaps if this production were scaled back a notch or two, Fearless Love wouldn't feel quite so oppressive, but its oversized sound fits Etheridge 's sense of self: she's boxed herself into a corner where she only makes music that sounds important…whether it actually is important winds up being beside the point.
Given that Melissa Etheridge recently announced her split with her partner of nearly nine years, one might expect that her latest effort, tenth studio album Fearless Love , would lean toward the confessional. If this was to be the case, though, and the album was to be all about the songs, Etheridge might have showcased her voice a bit better. As is, many of the songs drown in their own arrangements, no surprise considering that album-producer John Shanks has also been responsible for the radio-friendly fare belonging to the likes of Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson, and Bon Jovi. Besides, in this instance, the majority of the heavy choruses fail to find a memorable hook, rendering a number of the songs relatively indistinguishable from one another. Twenty years into her career, however, and with a sizable and devoted fan base, Etheridge has also afforded herself the ability to take artistic risks, putting out music that represents a step away from what her fans might have come to expect from her. The results are mixed. But all is not lost.
Etheridge said in an interview the album is "about being fearless. It's about choosing love over fear. It's a way, a philosophy of living life that suits me well. It features twelve tracks on the standard release and two bonus tracks on the deluxe edition. The album was produced by John Shanks, and co-produced by Etheridge. In an interview Etheridge stated about Shanks, she said: "He and I have a great relationship and I knew he could understand my desire to really get back to the rock and roll roots of myself and my music. He certainly did all that and more.
Etheridge wrote the song after her young daughter suggested the title for her album. Etheridge explained to Spinner the inspiration for the lyric "I was 17, you kissed my lips":. I try to put my own experiences in my songs, of course, and yet have them remain universal. It was intense going through that experience and having the fireworks go off: 'Oh my God, this is greatest thing ever! This is what all my girlfriends have been talking about when they kiss boys' and stuff. I was like, 'Hmmm I don't feel that' and then all of a sudden I felt it and I had to keep it in to myself. It will eat you up.
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