Many remember the Old Navy sweater commercial featuring the song “The Way I Am.” However, what people don’t remember is whose voice was behind the quirky and catchy tune.
Ingrid Michaelson is the folk singer/songwriter behind the many songs featured in commercials and television shows. She has done several collaborations with artists like Sarah Bareilles, has opened for Jason Mraz and has released four studio albums.
Michaelson’s fifth studio album “Human Again” was released last Tuesday and immediately took the number one album spot on iTunes. Upon releasing the news that she was producing a new album, Michaelson warned her fans that “Human Again” would be much darker than her previous work. After listening to the 13 tracks, this album indeed touches on darker subjects.
The themes that are present on the album have to do with daily life and relationship struggles. Michaelson’s “This Is War,” “Black and Blue” and “Palm of Your Hand” all contain lyrics that suggest romantic or relationship strains. Also in the track “In the Sea,” the lyrics are about the distress of having a lover or friend let you fall and not pick you back up.
There are also uplifting tracks and light-hearted ballads. The acoustic “How We Love” is a track that reflects how “we love to love when it fills up the room/but when it leaves, oh, we’re cursing the stars.”
The ballad “Keep Warm” is about having someone in your life that can keep you warm and return your affection.
“Human Again” showcases a much bolder and mature side to Michaelson. Since her debut as an artist, she has been given a cutesy and quirky persona. But in her newest installment, that persona has dissolved to reflect her growth as a singer and a songwriter.
This new album doesn’t just feature the ukulele or piano ballads. The choices of instruments and new musical elements add more depth and darkness to the album. In some tracks, electronica, a full orchestra and synths are used as a new style that Michaelson has never tried before.
The first track, “Fire,” begins with rapid strings and builds to a full orchestra powerhouse. A later track, “Black and Blue,” uses synths to create different sounds and a new-wave vibe. But she still does include emotional piano ballads like “Ghost” and acoustic tracks like “How We Love.”
This album shows Michaelson’s growth as an artist. But I do miss some of her up lifting quirky songs like “Everybody” or “Be OK.” All artists try different genres and styles to show a different side of their talent.
However, sometimes too much change isn’t a good thing. Michaelson should have included one or two more lively tracks that were similar to her older work. The dark and bold tracks are just as memorable but they dampen the entire mood of the album.
Michaelson accompanies her album release by announcing her “Human Again” spring tour. The concert dates run from April 9 until May 17. She will be making appearances in cities across the United States and Canada.
“Human Again” is a breath of fresh air in the redundant pop music industry. It is a fuse of love ballads, up beat tracks, and acoustic classics.
There is a familiarity to Ingrid Michaelson’s music. Her amazing vocals and relatable lyrics make her fifth album one of her best. Some of her songs may just show up in the next commercial or television show you watch.