Truly ‘Human Again’

Courtesy of Cabin 24

I’ve never listened to Ingrid Michaelson before. I’ve always had the impression that her music catered to heartbroken middle school girls trying to recover from the trauma of being dumped for the first time. However, Michaelson’s latest album, “Human Again,” prompted me to think that maybe it’s not just heartbroken tweens snapping up her album.

It seems to be the trend that artists famous for being sweet and airy begin to move toward darker and more melancholic sounds. With “Human Again,” Michaelson proves that she is no exception. Known for her hits, “Be Okay” and “You and I,” Michaelson effortlessly creates cute and catchy rhymes like “money” and “honey.” “Human Again” marks a departure from her normally breezy sound as Michaelson has grown to realize that love is a less than airy ordeal.

Recently married, Michaelson seems to use “Human Again” as a reflection on the ups and downs that accompany holy matrimony. The opening track, “Fire,” starts with a frenzied string intro coupled with a dramatic piano playing in the background and Michaelson defiantly singing, “Open heart surgery / That is what you do to me.” For the chorus, an up-tempo rock beat comes in and turns this folk-pop princess into an edgy, emotion-laden queen.

Gone are the days of cheesy rhyming lyrics. Instead, listeners are treated to Michaelson’s impassioned voice singing about the throes of being furiously in love. Tracks such as “Black and Blue” and “In the Sea” continue this newly acquired grown-up and sexy sound. Michaelson’s voice rolls over smooth melodies that serve as a backdrop to her amorous sound.

Though markedly different, “Human Again” doesn’t completely abandon her saccharine folk-pop roots. Tracks like “Blood Brothers,” “How We Love” and “Ribbons” feature banjos, plucky guitars and Michaelson’s cute yet raw voice as she croons about  the ins and outs of love. “Ribbons” serves as the definitive track on the album. A hopeful and inspirational strum of guitar and a steady drum beat juxtaposes with the gloomy lyrics, a musical motif for this album.

Don’t think that Michaelson’s marriage is on the rocks, though; “Keep Warm” is a touching tune that speaks to how much one can care for another human being. Following “Keep Warm,” “End of The World” serves as the concluding track to the album and another proclamation of love as she sings, “at the end of the world / will you find me / so that we can go together.”

The songs featured on “Human Again” sound as if Michaelson feverously wrote them down during a fight with her spouse, giving the listener a glimpse into the soreness that comes along with being in love. Michaelson’s progression from a sweet and charming crooner to a mature and reflection-filled woman lends itself to the music on this album as the songs are infused with emotional and tender lyrics. Overall, “Human Again” is adorned with many winning tracks that are catchy, meaningful and terribly moving. Now I see why tweens love her. Frankly, I do too.

Rating: 4 out of 5