Album Review: Ingrid Michaelson – Everybody

by Marie Carney on September 4, 2009

Sneaking in through the backdoor of your mind

Sneaking in through the backdoor of your mind

You may not realize you know Ingrid Michaelson, but you do.  Back in 2007 her album Girls and Boys launched her into the stratosphere of VH1’s artists “you oughta know” fueled by the ubiquitous “The Way I Am.”  You’ve also not realized you were listening to her while you watched such quality television shows as Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill and Scrubs.  An album a year later, her newest release Everybody arrived last week on August 25th.  Will it also be something you constantly hear in the background of your favourite tv shows or will this be the album that brings Ingrid Michaelson to the forefront?

The album begins with Ingrid Michaelson’s trademark (at least to me) sound:  a jangly ukulele.  But this song, “Soldier,” and the rest of the album, is lusher than I would have expected; with a full band, strings and horns.  On a first listen it sounds like too much, even over-produced, but the further you delve in and the longer you listen the more the sweet melodies Ingrid Michaelson has built her career on suck you in.  By the third time through the songs are a part of you and you can’t remember why you didn’t like them in the first place.

If there is one complaint it is the lyrics which at times are overly sentimental and simplistic.  In the title track “Everybody” she repeats “Everybody wants to be loved” over and over.  Does something that obvious really need to be said?  No.  But then there’s the next song “Are We There Yet” where she again repeats something simple and obvious for the chorus like “Are We There Yet?” but makes it work by turning the idea on its head.  Taking a line mostly said by impatient children on their way to Disneyland and turning it more adult by making it about the comforts of home and the ones you love.

There are other songs where the same simplicity comes across as touching, or even insightful.  On the great “Mountain and the Sea” she proclaims to the sea:  “You can move me if you want to, you can move a mountain” and somehow in the repetition it gets better and smarter.  Then on “Sort Of” she uses the title in a way you don’t expect, based on the obviousness of the previous tracks, by using it in the verse like “Baby, you’ve got the sort of hands…”  So when the soaring strings in the chorus come in and Ingrid Michaelson sings “And if I was stronger…” you’ve forgiven her and you just go along for the ride.

Everybody is traditional indie/pop/folk (that’s a traditional genre, right?) album, but turned up a notch.   The silly sentimentalities of the genre seem more present, and possibly even more irritating, but the great parts are there in spades.  There is the sweet music, the quirky but strong voice and the haunting melodies all there to comfort.   I wouldn’t listen to this album when I want a boost of energy and excitement, but I would listen to it in my room while reading a book.  And that is not a bad thing, but it certainly doesn’t bode well from her escaping from the prison of tv show soundtracks.

Songs to Download:  “Mountain and the Sea”  “Soldier”

Songs to Skip When Shuffling:  “Everybody”  “Once Was Love”

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Raffi Youssoufian September 4, 2009 at 12:21 pm

I’ve heard her so much in the background I almost feel weird in some scenarios if I don’t hear her voice…and her first album was called “Girls and Boys” ? hmmm…very interesting….

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Raffi Youssoufian September 4, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I do like that the second “I” in her name on the album cover looks like an exclamation point!

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Marie Carney September 5, 2009 at 11:42 am

Actually her first album was called Slow the Rain, but that one didn’t make it on to television…
and you know I have to try and sneak in blur references whenever possible as part of my plot to control the world, or to have blur control the world. you pick.

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