Sunday, February 19, 2012

Album Review: Ingrid Michaelson - Human Again

Ingrid Michaelson's new album, Human Again, was released on January 24, 2012. Luckily or unluckily, depending on how you look at it, I caught a cold the week it came out, missed school on Friday, and was able to spend most of the weekend listening to it. It's taken me awhile to form opinions on all the songs on the album, but now that I have, I'm here to give you a full review.

When I first started listening to some of the songs, my immediate reaction was "Wow." If all of Ingrid Michaelson's songs are as great as some of the ones I found here, I can't believe that I've gone this long without listening to her. Her voice is amazing and although I didn't buy every song, I really like the new album.

Now, for the individual song reviews.

1. Fire
I LOVE the strings on this song - they're amazing and a perfect background to the vocals. The lyrics are meaningful and have a really hopeful tone, and I love it when songs use metaphors. It adds so much depth. This one is filled with them, and they all create amazing images and tie into the meaning of the song without being repetitive. The only part of the song that I didn't love immediately was the bridge, but even that's grown on me. This song is the perfect first song, and it really gets that album off to a great start.

2. This Is War
I like the music on this one and the way it starts, as well as the first verse and the end of the chorus, but I'm not sure about the main part of the chorus. I loved the line from the second verse - "It's a wonder at all that I decide to breathe", but it was really the only part that stood out from that verse. I also have mixed feelings on the bridge, but I liked the way the chorus following it started, and the song had a nice ending.

3. Do It Now
I love this song, especially the opening instrumental. The verses are amazing - they're both really descriptive, meaningful and extremely catchy. I also loved the line in the chorus - "Don't waste a minute on the darkness and the pity sitting in your mind and do it right now." The only flaw I can see in this song is that there might have been too much repetition of the lines "Do it now, do it right now," and the bridge. It definitely added to the song, but I would have loved to see more of the type of the lyrics that were in the verses, because they were just so awesome.

4. I'm Through
The strings here are pretty, but the slowness of the song bothers me right away. It feels like there's nothing new here, and honestly sounds kind of boring. Her voice does sound really nice, I like the concept and the meaning of the song and don't mind the lyrics, but I dislike the way they're sung, and I dislike the song as a whole. To me, it feels like background music from a Lifetime movie, which is too bad, because I think it had potential.

5. Blood Brothers
This is definitely one of my favorite songs on the album. I love the meaning to pieces, and the lyrics are the fantastic. While the repetition in "Do it Now" took away from the song, here it's perfect and not at all out of place. The background music accents the lyrics perfectly. The chorus is AMAZING. I can't decide what my favorite part of the song is, because it's all so amazing and fits the message SO WELL. It all leads up to the most perfect ending on the album. Just - incredible.

6. Black and Blue
When I first heard the beginning of this song, I was both interested a little apprehensive. The rhythm of the lyrics was very catchy, but it also seemed sort of mainstream-dance-pop-ish. To be honest, it reminds me of the song "Funhouse" by P!nk, but I do like P!nk, so that might not be a bad thing. I do really like the chorus, especially the line "I'm black and blue cause I fell for you." It really makes the connection between emotional and physical pain, which makes the emotion much stronger. I'm honestly not sure how much I like this song, but it's definitely very unique and well written.

7. Ribbons
Yet another song with really pretty opening music. I love the verse, both the word choice and the way it's structured. It perfectly captures the feeling of the song - nothing else would work as well. I really like the first line of the chorus because once again it perfectly captured the emotion. I didn't like the fact that there was a swear word (nothing too horrible, just d*mn) - not because I don't swear words in songs, but because I honestly didn't think that it fit. The second verse and the rest of the song was just as amazing as the first verse;  I think there's some sort of symbolism here, but even if there's not, it's just awesome.

8. How We Love
This song was really touching right from the beginning. The first part of the chorus left me a little puzzled until I listened to the song a few times, but I did like the rest of the chorus. I liked how descriptive the verses were - it created very realistic, beautiful images. I wasn't expecting this song to be as strong as some of the others, but I was pleasantly surprised and overall I really liked it.

9. Palm of Your Hand
Very catchy right from the beginning. The meaning is interesting and kind of hard to decipher - I'm not entirely sure what it is. I liked the line "the haze of never knowing," because that's exactly what it feels like when you don't know something, as if you're trapped in a haze where you can't see anything clearly. As I'm listening, can't help wondering if the line, "shot me right between the eyes" is meant to be taken negatively or not - it reminds me of the line in The Dog Days Are Over by Florence and Machine - "Happiness hit her like a bullet in the head" - it could be about something so sharp and sudden that it makes you start feeling again. I like this song because it feels so contradictory, and I think it fits really well with the theme of the album and the meaning of "Fire."

10. Ghost
Once again, I love the strings at the beginning. The first verse grabs your attention right away, and the line "I didn't even cry, because pieces of me had already died," is a very accurate description. Every moment of the chorus was fantastic - it starts really big, keeps building, and then has a beautiful, soft finish. The bridge-ish area after the second is beautiful and moving. It's so soft and then swells again very suddenly, which shouldn't work as amazingly as it does. It's one of those songs where you can't stop listening to it, and the ending leaves you needing to catch your breath.

11. In The Sea
This is a much more beat-driven song, and I like it. Yet again, the lyrics are so amazing - I don't even know how she comes up with them. They're so intense. The chorus is phenomenal, and although the meaning might seem kind of repetitive, it also helps the album sound really unified in its overall theme. I love the image of being dropped in the sea. For once, I'm not overly thrilled with the ending and the way her voice changes, but it's hard for anything to take away from this amazing song.

12. Keep Warm
I can't help but feeling deja vu with the way it starts - it sounds JUST LIKE "I'm Through," when you first listen to it. I like the lyrics a bit better, but otherwise, I don't like this one any better than "I'm Through" - for most of the same reasons. It's too slow, and to be honest, I couldn't make myself listen to the whole song - I mostly skimmed. Even though I love violins, by this point I was tired of them starting songs, and wished there was some more variety in the instrumentals.

13. End of the World
The instrumentals at the beginning were very interesting; I like the sounds behind the lyrics when the verse starts - it's very intricate. The lyrics and concept of the song are very unique, and while the chorus wasn't quite as strong as on some of the other songs, I still liked it. Throughout the song, the intensity builds really nicely, until it fades out just - beautifully.

So, overall, I'm extremely glad that I decided to check out this album, and Ingrid Michaelson will definitely be added to the list of my favorite artists. I highly recommend this album - aside from a few weak areas, it's pretty fantastic.

Keep an eye out for more album reviews - I plan to post reviews of The Fray's new album, Scars and Stories, and Audrey Assad's new album, Heart.


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