Ingrid Michaelson
Stranger Songs


3.0
good

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
June 29th, 2019 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2019 | Tracklist

Review Summary: And we, take her the way she is.

Ingrid Michaelson is for better or worse the most reliable indie-pop songstress in the mainstream light. Her career-to-date has been filled with albums that deliver exactly what we’d expect: forlorn, heartfelt ballads of romance featuring her soothing voice over a blend of simple instrumentation that has ventured far from her ukulele days. Her last three efforts saw her really settle into this sweet spot; Human Again teased an art-pop direction but never fully realized it, Lights Out overflowed with delicate slow dances and Swiftisms (“in the best way, you’ll be the death of me”), and It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense was her quietest and most lyrically-reliant record so far. That’s why Stranger Songs seemed like such an intriguing possibility – the artwork features her upside down in a jeans jacket and her hair dyed blonde, the title suggests something a little more bizarre than your average indie-pop fare, and lead single ‘Missing You’ sounds like it could be played in clubs more easily than a coffee shop. The stage was set for Michaelson to migrate to new pastures, a move that would make sense after a decade of playing it comparatively safe.

However, just like how Human Again teased a more highbrow approach to pop but essentially ended up being a retread, Stranger Songs follows in its footsteps. The subtle suggestions of evolution are mostly fanfare; Ingrid’s bread and butter covers the majority of this not-so-strange experience, as Michaelson waxes poetic about romance (“It’s like the Fourth of July in your eyes”…“Here I go, again, falling in love with my best friend”), and usually atop beautiful piano cascades (‘Mother’) or midtempo studio electronics (‘Freak Show’). Michaelson still hits the mark dependably on gorgeous numbers like ‘Christmas Lights’, where the music is set to little more than her voice, but her biggest successes on this album only solidify that she has a limited number of modes – most of which have already been explored with more energy and creativity.

With that said, Stranger Songs will absolutely deliver what Ingrid’s fans love most about her. It’s got the gorgeous piano ballads, the awe-struck/starry-eyed lyrics of romance and heartbreak, and a handful of token upbeat pop numbers to the tune of ‘Boys Chase Girls’ that remind listeners she can still craft a mean hook. It should come as no surprise that Michaelson continues to trek down this path; the only real wonder is why she continues to tease alternate directions that she’ll never fully commit to. There’s a vast spectrum of sounds out there that, with the current advancements in the music industry, could launch her gorgeous voice to places we never thought possible. Instead, we’re stuck in the mid-2000's. It’s not a bad place to be, and we’ll all undoubtedly still find plenty to enjoy here, but one can’t help but feel like the vast potential she showed back when she was actually a starving indie artist has fizzled out. Now she has a product – this carefully curated image – as opposed to a vision she’s trying to chase. Longtime fans still holding out for a career-defining record from Michaelson will have to take her own lyrical advice from 2006: “take me the way I am.”



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user ratings (5)
Chart.
2.5
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
June 29th 2019


31448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not in a very verbose mood lately with these shorter reviews, but there's only so much that can be said about an album that retreads everything she's done in the last 10 years yet is still pretty good.

Digging: Bad Books - III

Point1
June 29th 2019


609 Comments


I don't know anything about her except that "Girls Chase Boys" is one of my least favourite songs of all time.

Kompys2000
June 29th 2019


2861 Comments


Oh golly she really called this album "Stranger Songs" and used the Stranger Things font on the cover, if that doesn't just scream "please let me still be relevant", I don't know what does.

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 29th 2019


31448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

She's basically owned the same niche for over a decade now. Impressive, if unexciting.

Divaman
June 29th 2019


3773 Comments


I'm still looking forward to this one.

Digging: Screaming Orphans - Life in a Carnival

Kompys2000
June 29th 2019


2861 Comments


Still might check this out, a couple songs off her last album were legit bangers

TundraL5Z
June 29th 2019


2856 Comments


This actually peaked my interest, helps that she has a pretty face too *wink* *wink*

SowingSeason
Moderator
June 29th 2019


31448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah I've always thought she's pretty cute too

Her musical output speaks for itself tho obv

Gyromania
June 29th 2019


27922 Comments


Stranger danger!

Digging: black midi - Schlagenheim

dmathias52
June 29th 2019


630 Comments


Slow the Rain is one my favorite pop albums of all time and I have such a soft spot for her! Will probably check this out on a sunny day

Digging: Air Review - How We Got By

Eons
June 30th 2019


2330 Comments


Why does this chick look like a different person on almost every album cover?

Also her best album cover art is not her best; ''Human Again''. Talk about a bummer.

Pangea
July 1st 2019


3057 Comments


nice review. i liked the singles from lights out but haven't checked her stuff other than that

Digging: Thom Yorke - Anima

SowingSeason
Moderator
July 3rd 2019


31448 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is better than a 2.3



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