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Melissa Etheridge Breakdown Island
IslandFollowing up on the heartfelt lyrics and powerful vocals of Yes I Am, her 1993 quadruple-platinum Grammy-winning album, Melissa Etheridge's latest release, Breakdown, evokes the spiritual hunger and empowerment gained from the three-year hiatus she took to raise a family. Etheridge's folk-rock roots come to the surface in this album on love and loss, consciousness and confusion, hope and reconciliation. The title track combines a powerful infusion of drums, bass and guitar--performed by co-producer and longtime touring guitarist John Shanks--with Etheridge's characteristic sultry leads and honest, truthful lyrics ("So you're having a breakdown/so you're losing your might/and I'm driving/and crying/unraveled/and flying/I'm coming to your breakdown tonight") that tear at your entire being.
The first single, "Angels Would Fall," bleeds the raw passion of her previous albums, but with a new maturity. "Scarecrow," her chilling ode to Matthew Shepard, the gay student murdered in Wyoming last year, pleads for tolerance as it vividly describes Shepard's violent death: "they left you cold and breathing/for love they crucified you." Hurling forthright honesty into a field known for placing image over substance, Breakdown achieves unadorned vulnerability and foreboding emotion. B+
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