Mom & Pop Music
The internet folk sensation Ingrid Michaelson warned fans in advance of her fifth album's darker sounds. However, those expecting the 32-year-old would ditch her quirky ukulele-driven love songs in favour of goth-rock can breathe a sigh of relief.
A musical change is definitely in the air in Human Again as Michaelson fleshes out her often skeletal compositions with new welcome elements, including some electronica and, in a few tracks, a full-fledged orchestra.
Her vocals, often warm and suitable for campfire singalong, have taken more of an aggressive bent, showcasing her growing confidence as a performer and songwriter. A case in point are in the love songs, particularly those centring around break-ups. Ghost is beautifully structured and culminates in a swelling chorus while How We Love is more tender, with Michaelson sounding delicate and ruminative.
Offbeat synths also make an appearance in Black and Blue and In the Sea. The quirky arrangements give the song a slight new-wave tinge, thanks to the producer David Kahne, who previously helmed records by The Bangles and the folk oddball Imogen Heap.
Kahne's guiding hand is also behind the gorgeous lushness of the orchestral ballads Fire and Do It Now, which, coupled with Michaelson's tougher sounding vocals, gives the record an added depth not found in previous works. But if all this talk of being grown up scares old fans, the ukulele-strummed This Is War and the acoustic sweetness of Ribbons show her endearing optimistic streak lives on.
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