Melissa Etheridge continues to personify the archetypal pop
singer/songwriter on her ninth studio record, Lucky. This
album blends in perfectly with the framework of the current
lackluster music mainstream. It is predominantly composed of
unexciting tracks peppered with a few stand-alone sensations.
Moreover, aside from the warmly faded retro packaging and liner
notes, the main attractions of this album are her atypical
Often considered folksy and mellow, Etheridge scoffs at this
judgment by presenting an anger-ridden dark side. “Secret
Agent” is a departure from her usual sound and is easily the
musical apex of the album. An emphasized bass line, punctuated drum
rhythm and “surf” guitar sound forcefully open the
song. Mixing these three distinct elements creates a diverse sonic
hybrid — flavorful reverb with a twist of grunge. Yet the
high point is short-lived, hitting a trough no sooner than the next
title, “Will You Still Love Me,” which slows the tempo
to painfully boring levels.
Much of the subsequent album material is filler, quickly fading
to background noise. Fittingly, her failed attempt to mobilize
patriotism in “Tuesday Morning” and the sappy ballad
“Mercy” are poor contributions to Lucky. The
mellow drivel is, however, refreshingly contrasted with the
strikingly urgent and heated “Giant.” Once again, the
grunge-rock sound Etheridge conjures is rather unexpected. Pent-up
anger displayed in her raspy singing style parallels the juicy
guitar solo and excited fervor. Upon initial exposure, she could
erroneously be mistaken for a hard-rock artist. In comparison,
“Come On Out Tonight” is more in the vein of her
typical catchy pop style. Upbeat in nature, the song boasts an
addictive yet fluid chord progression and melodic hook that
succeeds in holding listener interest.
Etheridge’s flirtation with grunge-rock and hard-rock
influences within her folksy style give the music a hard-edged
makeover, clearly hinting at a fresher and much-needed change in
direction. However, in the end Lucky falls short in
sustaining the vigor captured on a handful of unique songs.
Instead, the listener is forced to plod through an album that is
average at best.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars