Saturday, February 14, 2009

Everything Comes and Goes

"Too many times I have told you
That I was okay
But I'm finally feeling like I can explain myself
I'm not claiming that I know everything
No, I'm not
Because you made me this way"

This Way (2009) by Michelle Branch

Not many people know this but I am a great fan of the American singer-songwriter Michelle Branch. The first song I heard from her was Everywhere back in 2001 and it was recommended to me by this older girl on ICQ who was in a band that played Michelle Branch's songs. I can't remember her name now and I don't think I ever talked to her since.

The Spirit Room (2001)

If there's any way for a person to fall in love with a song, I think I did just that the first time I heard Everywhere. It's about a guy she's obsessed with who doesn't know she exists and who she is almost-stalking apparently (or about God, according to one interview), but I didn't know that back then. I thought it was about music, and her love for it. The song surprised me because I have never heard anything like it before. How can I describe that feeling to you? Imagine an expensive yet sleazy nightclub. Imagine a grand, neon-lighted stage and bomb colours. Imagine big dance numbers, performers in the loudest, gaudiest costumes, songs with scandalous lyrics, singers with with sex appeal brimming and spilling out of corsettes, large bands with a lot of brass... then suddenly, the cacophony of showbiz was cut and the coloured lights faded. A small girl walked on stage alone with an acoustic guitar almost bigger than she is, climbed onto a stool in a white light-spot and started singing a sweet little song she wrote herself. No gimmicks. No backups. No dancers. Just the girl, her guitar and her song. That's girl is Michelle Branch. It was the first time I heard such disarming sincerity in a song, and I heard it in Everywhere. I went to a music store and bought her album, The Spirit Room, the very next day.

Hotel Paper (2003). I also bought this.

This is going to sound really cheesy but I have always felt that her songs are often about what I'm going through. It's almost like she knew exactly what it feels like to be me, or rather, to be all of us. I read a review once that says the same thing - about how teenagers can relate to her songs and words so naturally. I broke up with my first girlfriend listening to Goodbye To You. In the time I was obsessively after the girl who would be my second girlfriend a year later, Michelle Branch released her second studio album, Hotel Paper, with the wistfully hopeful One Of These Days which saw me through it. I do not know why Michelle Branch never released that song as a single - even my college roommate at the time grew to love it (from my constant playback, of course). When I broke up with that girl 3 years later, her songs from that same album, the angry Are You Happy Now? and the melancholic French-chorused 'Til I Get Over You sustained me in my 8 months of emotional wretchedness and disgusting self-pity. And when I finally and thoroughly severed all contact with the ex, the soundtrack of my relief was Breathe.

Back in high school, I suggested a music section in our Fourth Form class magazine in which we can write about our favourite musicians. And since I was the editor for those pages, guess which article was on the first page and was noticeably longer than all the others? C'mon, take a wiiillld guess.

Stand Still, Look Pretty (2006).

She discarded her pop rock roots and teamed up with Jessica Harp to form the country pop duo, The Wreckers, in 2004. I downloaded the album, heard it and decided not to buy it in the end because - well, country isn't really my kind of thing. I did, however, liked a few of their songs in which the old Michelle Branch verve shone through, but little else.

Everything Comes and Goes (hopefully 2009).

After what seemed like a really long time without any fresh solo Michelle Branch material, she finally announced a new non-Wreckers album at the end of 2007, about the time I started seeing Phoebe. You have no idea how stoked I was when I first heard about it. The fact that this album will predominantly focus on the country genre did naught to dampen my enthusiasm.

Just yesterday, I found out that Michelle Branch had released a full song from her new album for download on her website - a sort of St. Valentine's Day gift from her to her fans, says her - and I immediately went and revived my old fan account to get it.

And it was freaking AWESOME.

Anyhow, I don't think it's comparable to most of her older stuff, which I seriously recommend you to check out if you have somehow completely lived through most of the 21st century (so far) without knowing who Michelle Branch is. Even if you have, you wouldn't know from just the songs she released as singles that you're missing out on a lot of her talent that never saw daylight on MTV or radio airplay. Aside from the titles I already mentioned, do try to listen to You Set Me Free, You Get Me, Here With Me, Tuesday Morning, and Where Are You Now? - they are all very good (better than the best stuff of most musicians in their prime, in my opinion) and really deserve so much more attention.

Of course, if you're not into non-dance hits, pop rock and the fresh, crisp originality that pretty much went extinct in the mainstream a long time ago is a rarity nowadays - don't bother looking her up.

Now, we're probably just weeks away from the launch of her new album. Gosh, I can hardly breathe for the suspense! *plays 'Breathe' on playlist*

P.S. Happy St. Valentine's Day for those who celebrates it. I don't. I celebrate Qi Xi, the Chinese equivalent for seperated lovers.

P.P.S. Someone (I can't remember who) borrowed my copy of The Spirit Room years ago and did not return it. If any of you reading this has it, please return it. NOW.

P.P.P.S. I just noticed that in all the picture of her albums, her body does not face the the camera. And in all of them, she's looking over her left shoulder - except her latest one, in which she's looking over her right. Hmmm, I wonder if that means anything.

Long time fan,
k0k s3n w4i


Melyong said...

DUDE! MICHELLE BRANCH ROCKS! I downloaded her songs and have liked her since i dunno when. She's got it. Quite surprised that you're into her stuff.

Jimi said...

love michelle branch. she's pretty and have lovely voice but it's been a while since i heard about her.

MichelleG said...

haha still remember u were the one who intro-ed her to us. yea most of her earlier songs are nicer.

Pikelet said...

She does have a mysterious ability to make you feel like she's singing from the heart, singing just for you, singing just to you... Every single song she sings, I can relate to it, you can relate to it, everyone can relate to it. Her lyrics ring true, the melody tugs not just at your heartstrings.. but also your memories... Like you said,

"Just the girl, her guitar and her song."

ericG said...

Oh, my fav is always Goodbye To You and a few others which i couldn't recall the title...

yea, who could ever forget that super long article on Blink 182. I wrote on Sum 41 though... Which makes me wonder why didn't you write bout MB?

Her pictures are taken that way probably cos she looks better that way in that angle or she refused public to look at her frontal view, if u know what i mean... during concerts it was always covered with her guitar... so maybe there's something there... LOL.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Melyong: Why? What sort of music did you think I'm into anyway?

Jimi: Well, now you hear about her again.

MichelleG: Hotel Paper wasn't bad what. It's only her Wreckers songs that sound a bit crappy.

Pikelet: Haha, true. Can't even think about my teenage years without associating Michelle Branch's songs to them. Are you a girl or a guy, Pikelet?

ericG: You liked You Set Me Free, if I recall correctly. And yes, I wrote the Blink 182 one but remember the first page of that section or not? It's a piece on Michelle Branch, also written by me! Maybe she got tummy... hmmm, but she don't hide her abdomen in most of her videos though - and there's no obvious bulge.

Pikelet said...

Why does it matter? Is there a gender restriction as to who can view and comment on your blog or something? I can't quite comprehend the importance of this matter. Hence, I won't tell you straight out what my gender is. However, I will tell you that my ring finger is longer than my index finger. Take a wild guess. Although I might not entertain your guesses.

k0k s3n w4i said...

Pikelet: I asked because I have you pegged as a girl, and wanted to see if I was right. You can't comprehend the importance of it because there isn't any. My ring finger is longer than my index too.

Pikelet said...

Curiosity killed the cat.

cHrIstInA_YY said...

Michelle Branch is one of my favorite artists. I love most of the songs in her first and second albums, and used to listen to her albums over and over again until I can memorize all the lyrics, LoL. Thanks for sharing her latest album, I didn't know that she's back again =D

k0k s3n w4i said...

Pikelet: *shrugs*

cHrIstInA_YY: I think she's one of the very few songwriters out there that pushes out albums containing mostly awesome tracks. She's a musicians' musician, considering that even Santana wanted to (and did) collaborate with her. nice to know another fan :)

John. said...

Michelle is my absolute most favorite artist! LOVE her!

That's actually not the original cover or The Spirit Room. The album was initially shipped with the picture of michelle leaning against a red wall as the cover. Here:

And I read today that Everything Comes & Goes leaked last night. I havent been able to locate it yet though :(

k0k s3n w4i said...

John.:I kinda thought that the album came in both covers (at least mine was). The blue side was on reverse of the lyrics booklet. And EC&G leaked?! I'm hunting it down right NOW!