Ingrid Michaelson releases impressive fifth album

 

Ingrid Michaelson is a genius. 

Plain and simple, the girl has it all: the voice, the writing, the musicianship and the incredible arrangement abilities.

When a listener expects a quality level equal or greater to that of her 2007 release “Girls and Boys,” it is a disappointment when the album’s hook song is as lyrically mediocre as “Fire.” Surprisingly, “Fire” has already climbed to second in the iTunes sales of her music. 

Though Michaelson retains her impressive performance and arrangement, the lyrics to the opening track of her album sound forced. Luckily, the upbeat tempo, intriguing instrumentation and catchy vocal melody save the song.

Not to worry faithful Ingrid fans: the whole album is not like the first track. Further listening proves that Michaelson has produced yet another mind-blowing work of art. 

The second song, “This Is War,” is more stripped-down than the opening track, with just a ukulele opening joined by a bass drum. 

The profound lyrics “It’s a wonder at all that I survived the war between your heart and mine,” are unexpected following her opening words. 

Michaelson’s ability to go from the concrete to the more abstract concepts in her writing is incredible. 

The use of classically orchestral string instruments in this album is also brilliant. 

Though strings are most often used to slow down songs and give them a sad tone, Michaelson uses them more frequently as a rhythm section, adding to the driving drum lines and emphasizing her already impressive melodies and harmonies. 

The third track on the album, “Do It Now,” kicks off with just a drum beat. As the strings come in, the listener can feel the drive building up toward her opening lyrics: “Sitting on the back of the bus, talking about nothing, but we’re talkin’ ‘bout us.”        These profound and relatable lyrics lead up to, “No one’s gonna wait for you to do it right now.” For a happily married woman, Michaelson conveys the feelings of a dying relationship and heartbreak abnormally well. 

Michaelson’s use of strings is delightfully variable. Following “Do It Now,” slow strings and beautiful piano accompany a contemplative set of lyrics and a fragile vocal in “I’m Through.” 

Though the track is numbingly beautiful in its affirmation of pain and heartbreak, it also holds a glimmer of hope. “I know there’ll come a time again when everything will fit right in, and I won’t have to see your face in strangers on the street.” Michaelson can say it all with so few words.

“Black and Blue” is the track that the album is built around. In a flawless combination of computer-produced electronic beats and “real” instrumentation, Michaelson wrote what may just be her catchiest song yet. 

That is quite an accomplishment, considering that she also wrote her 2007 album “Girls and Boys.” 

“Black and Blue” takes her wording in her 2010 single “Parachute” from “You’re gonna catch me if I fall” in Parachute to “Black and blue and in love with you, you said you never would let me fall, you never would let me fall, but I’m falling.” 

This lyrically intricate track utilizes background vocals in a way that reels the listener into Michaelson’s bopping beat. 

“How We Love” is a song for taking a step back. It is fragile, beautiful and hopeful while still a little humorous. This is the most stripped-down track, and arguably the best song on the album.

Michaelson’s energy is infectious in the driving song “Palm of Your Hand,” with an opening guitar riff reminiscent of The Proclaimer’s “I’m Gonna Be.” 

“Ghost,” which was originally released as a single late last year, is hauntingly beautiful and powerful, with the lyrics “I’m a ghost haunting these halls, climbing up the walls that I never knew were there. And I’m lost, broken down the middle of my heart.”

Following “Ghost” is the evocative song “In The Sea.” “I feel it in my skin, I feel it through my bones. Your finger tips are falling far from where I know.” 

With this very haunting and sexy song, moving on to a more classic-feeling track, “Keep Warm,” and finally, “The End of The World,” an image-provoking finale that conveys warmth and hope.