On her first album in 14 years, Michelle Branch is stepping towards a rockier, bluesier sound. She remarked in interviews that she always leaned towards rock, and was pushed by her former record label for a more pop sound. In fact, this is the third full album of material she has written since Hotel Paper, but battles with her previous label kept anything from being released until she moved to Verge for this album, produced by Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney and Guy Seyffert (SIa, Beck).
The honest truth is that the stylistic variations make the album a little incohesive. Nods back to her pop days are interspersed with songs that show Carney’s obvious influence. However, this is album is not as strong as Hotel Paper was. Part of that is the stylistic cohesiveness, and part of that is that fact that the album is part break-up album and part new relationship album. And the break-up album part is much better than the new relationship album part.
Songs with a hint of venom in them like Best You Ever, Heartbreak Now, and Knock Yourself Out are vigorous and enjoyable. But the album is peppered with songs that are just a little flat, a little pablum like Fault Line, Carry Me Home, and Hopeless Romantic that make the whole thing feel overlong.
Recommendation: Stream It
Song that I have a playlist for: Best You Ever, Heartbreak Now, Knock Yourself Out, Shadow
Songs I will thumbs down: Fault Line, Hopeless Romantic, Carry Me Home