Lucky (Island)

Melissa Etheridge 

Lucky (Island)

Forget the book club -- Oprah needs to start a record club. That way, those who wear their estrogen on their sleeves like Melissa Etheridge would have a forum for their works, which are actually self-help books disguised as music. Etheridge's last effort, 2001's melodramatic Skin, offered a wrenching account of her split with longtime partner Julie Cypher. Skin ended on a hopeful note, with Etheridge concluding that she would rise from the ashes to love again. Lucky picks up where Skin left off, documenting Etheridge's spiritual rebirth and her relationship with new partner Tammy Michaels. If that sounds like the icky plot of an Oxygen Network chick flick, just wait till you hear the album. Lucky's overwrought, confessional tone begins immediately with the opening title track, in which Etheridge warbles about how she found romance: Through my blind intoxication/My shock-induced self medication. Hoo, boy. Etheridge spent a couple of years putting together tracks for Lucky, most of which were rejected by Island Records, which insisted on a more contemporary sound. The result of this corporate meddling is found on songs such as "Mercy," which includes an annoying drum machine, and the single "Breathe," which marks the first time Etheridge has been forced to release a song she didn't write. Etheridge's legion of devoted fans undoubtedly will be thrilled that their heroine sounds reinvigorated on relatively gritty tracks such as "Secret Agent" and "Meet Me in the Dark." And it is refreshing to hear an artist tell her life story through music. But after a while you just want someone to bring you some water instead.

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