Release Date: January 24th, 2012
Reviewed By Evelyn Miska Krieger
Human Again is Ingrid Michaelson’s fifth studio album and while there are many of the same inspirations for her songs, the album has a good polish and Michaelson sounds confident even in her more vulnerable moments. Her vocals combined with lushly layered instrumental tracks make for some fine songs that display nice variety. Sure, Michaelson still falls into that wronged chanteuse category and many (if not all) of her songs follow the theme of lost love, but she makes it work and even manages to include some that show strength on the other side of a breakup.
The choppy delivery on the verses of “Fire” might be a little off-putting when combined with the somewhat predictable analogies between a lover’s leaving and heart attacks. However, the song picks up with a different delivery and style on the chorus as well as a rather pretty bridge which more than makes up for the verses.
“Black and Blue” is a definite standout on Human Again with a cool little beat on the intro and jaunty style throughout. Michaelson’s signature vocals are there, sure, and, yes, it’s about a lover doing her wrong, but the rhythm and style of the song make it clearly different from the rest. Some might find the chorus, “I’m black and blue, cause I fell for you” a little cliched (or at least predictable), but even if it is, so what? The song is fun and somehow comes off as slightly empowering, mostly likely due to the funky beats, despite the lyrics. It’s the sort of song girls will want to learn the words to and sing along with in the car. Similarly, “In the Sea” gets a little of that same harder beat which helps it stand out from the other slower and more sentimental tracks. It might be a little surprising, but what makes these two tracks work is the dash of edge Michaelson gives them; it’s refreshing.
With a number of good, repeat-worthy tracks, there are bound to be some mistakes on the album. “How We Love” isn’t a train-wreck or anything, but for those lyric nazis, the chorus on this song might grate. The number is slow and just Mic and some light guitar melody. Occasionally her voice comes across as thin and tinny, but that isn’t the primary issue, and, yes, this will probably sound harsh on a song that is meant to be so sentimental. However, lines such as “we hate the rain when it fills up our shoes, but how we love when it washes our cars,” just come off like Michaelson just went with the first line she came up with rather than revising.
Human Again is a pretty album and likely to appeal to those undergraduate girls who are looking for something a little more mature and deep than what they may have listened to up until now, but who are not ready to really delve into something further and darker from the mainstream. Michaelson is the perfect piece for that empty spot. Her record is easy to listen to, well put together, decently written and pretty innocuous. Still, it’s nice to find just a little bit of edge amid the hurt feelings set to piano and acoustic guitar.