With a voice that’s somewhere between Joni Mitchell and Nico, Ingrid Michaelson carries the tradition of the female singer/songwriter into the 21st century. Befitting a musician of the digital age, Michaelson first gained wide exposure through spots on TV soundtracks. Born and raised on New York’s Staten Island to an artist mother and classical composer father, Michaelson began exploring music through piano lessons at the age of four. After college, she toured with a national theater troupe and spent her free time writing songs, later compiling them for her debut album, Girls and Boys, which was released on Michaelson’s label, Cabin 24 Records, in January 2007. Three months later, she won a national songwriting contest sponsored by Mountain Stage, a radio program produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and distributed worldwide. Four songs from her debut were also featured prominently in the prime time television drama Grey’s Anatomy and commercials for clothing company Old Navy.
Newcomer Ingrid Michaelson has amazed everyone with her new album Girls and Boys. Michaelson’s song “The way I am” gained melodic presence when it hit the scene in the new Old Navy commercial. Guilty of humming “…if you are chilly, here take my sweater,” I was determined to discover who the hot new artist was. Luckily the album was anything but a disappointment. Covering the love woes with a hint of comedy, she brings fresh lyrics like “I’d buy you Rogaine if you start losing all your hair” as well as “you make me think that maybe I won’t die alone.”
Each of the 12 tracks represents their own story; and with the simplest lyrics, brings forth emotion that everyone has felt at one instant or another. Her partner may indeed be a “masochist for falling for [her],” but then again who hasn’t felt numb in their lifetime of unfulfilling relationships. The bitterness after a love lost is undeniable, yet she once more is able to express her exact feelings. She sings “But before you finally go there’s one thing you should know:/ That I promise -// Starting now I’ll never know your name/ Starting now I’ll never feel the same/ Starting now I wish you never came into my world.”
Although each track can be coined as my favorite, there is one that can be written about anyone. “The Hat” describes her first love at the age of seventeen, and how she finally pushes him away. She sings “I remember the first time we danced/ I remember tunneling through the snow like ants/ What I don’t recall is why I said/ I simply can’t sleep in this tiny bed with you anymore.” She doesn’t express sadness and regret; instead she is ok with the fact that he has moved on. She finishes by singing “I should tell you that you were my first love,” yet, it’s ok because “We were seventeen again together,” experiencing love for the first time with each other.
Aside from her flawless voice and indie vibe with jazz roots, Michaleson has well structured tracks, riding the new wave of female singer/songwriters. Instead of falling into the category of angry girl music with songs that bash men she re-emerges by playing music that can easily gain respect for its content. Although she can easily be associated with the likes of Regina Spektor and Jenny Owen Youngs, Michaelson’s record gives a refreshing new outlook on men and life.
Review by Kat Skaris