I know this much about Michelle Branch: I thought she was Vanessa Carlton.
That’s pretty indicative of the attention I paid her (and Vanessa Carlton!) when her career took off. Now, at least some of that is on the fact that I was at university, without regular access to commercial radio and with little access to music video channels, when this album came out. (Same with the Vanessa Carlton hits I confused for Michelle Branch’s.) But I think at least some of this can be ascribed to internalized sexism – “brown-haired female singer-songwriter playing an instrument.”
Branch is brattier than I thought she would be, but that makes sense given her age. And, honestly, given her age, it’s actually pretty mature. I’ve heard a lot of music by teenagers in my life and these songs are pretty decent for the output of a teenager. (Look at my essays from the same age…I mean, please don’t.)
This is rockier than I was expecting. And that makes sense because I was expecting Vanessa Carlton. In its rockiness, it avoids the “girl with a guitar” cliches of most ’90s women singer-songwriters and that’s a good thing.
But it is also produced to shit. Note the Pro Tools credit. But you can just listen to the album. Branch sounds less bratty than she should given her age and some of the lyrics, and that’s definitely on the production. But the band behind her is very, very clean and polished. Whatever edge they were hoping for from the distorted guitars isn’t there. And what rootsy feel we might get from the songs (or some of the instruments) is also heavily diluted (to the point you can barely even notice the potential).
At least it’s not an hour long. That’s something.
PS She has an excellent voice whenever she stops being bratty.