Ingrid Michaelson Meets Maturity With "Human Again"
On the whole, “Human Again” is harder around the edges, exhibiting a maturity missing from her former albums. Michaelson, famous for her simple-sweet lyrics and campfire instruments, trades her ukulele and acoustic guitars for moodier cellos and violas.
“I love singing my little ukulele songs. But I feel like it's time to stand up and really sing,” Michaelson recently told Oh No They Didn’t, an online entertainment blog. “[This record] is fiercer and not as childlike. Not to diss my old work, but I feel like I've done the whole barefoot singer-songwriter thing.”
Orchestral ballads like “Fire” and “Do It Now” showcase Michaelson’s aural aggressiveness and edgier vocals. But fear not, Michaelson romantics. She reverts back to lyric-driven singles with “This Is War” which has, thank goodness, a ukulele buttress and nauseatingly optimistic outlook on love, as well as “Ribbons,” a sing-along ballad which features sweet acoustic guitar without distracting from her more experimental vocals.
While Michaelson pushes boundaries vocally in “Human Again,” she also adopts unexpected electronic synths in peppy “Black and Blue.” On “In the Sea,” she croons that she “likes the saltwater sting,” a far cry from offering to buy Rogaine for her balding lover or building homes with her cute and funny bunny in the south of France. The perky electronica is probably thanks to producer David Kahne, famous for his work with artists like Imogen Heap and The Bangles.
Hauntingly beautiful songs like Michaelson’s lead single “Ghost,” “Keep Warm” and “How We Love” further demonstrate Michaelson’s vocal maturity. They also carry the promise of landing her more television features, such as those in the “Grey’s Anatomy” season three finale, “One Tree Hill” and “So You Think You Can Dance.” Meanwhile, more forgettable songs like “I’m Through" and “Palm of Your Hand” have promise, though they do not immediately stand out amongst Michaelson’s eclectic mélange of newly-charted genres.
For the most part, “Human Again” is a refreshing change for Michaelson. And though her lingering devotion to the ukulele and guitar is much appreciated, Michaelson’s enthusiastic fans embrace her musical daring with open arms.
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