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Monday, November 12, 2012

Artist of the Day: Michelle Branch

As pop stars get younger and younger by the day, it's easy to forget Michelle Branch, the 16-year-old who burst onto the airwaves in 2001 with her ubiquitous hit "Everywhere." Eventually forced into retirement by the birth of her children, Branch was able to record 2 albums of her own before the age of 20. Despite her youth, Branch displayed surprising maturity with her song writing and vocals. Although songs like "You Get Me" made her inexperience and age a little more apparent, she hid it rather well. It's easy to compare her to Taylor Swift due to her country influences and focus on relationships but that would diminish the power of her music. It's entirely unique- pop music rooted in naivete rather than risque themes or revenge. It's wholesome, but not sweet as saccharine. "A Drop in the Ocean" showcases a girl wise beyond her years who doesn't shy away from metaphor (albeit basic) when writing.

Her debut, 2001's The Spirit Room is even across the board, with no songs engineered for commercial success, just for expression. It's music for the sake of music, the way that little kids dream pop music is. Although 2003's Hotel Paper saw a drop in quality, it still produced lasting songs like "Are You Happy Now?" Frankly, it's not that Hotel Paper is a weak album as much as it is The Spirit Room was a pop radio gem. Her subtle twang, crisp backing band and charming persona made Branch into a phenomenon in the early 2000's and it's a shame that she seems to have been left behind in the new decade. Look for a new album from Branch next year; perhaps she will be able to replicate the success from her teens.

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