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Your Little Secret

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Album Review

On her fifth album, Melissa Etheridge mixed her primary musical influences—a lot of Bruce Springsteen, some Led Zeppelin, a little U2—with a set of directed love lyrics—a lot of "you," some "I," a little "they"—that seemed to revolve around a romantic triangle. Etheridge's emotional concerns were specifically same sex-oriented, not so much because she flaunted her lesbianism as because of the way she thought about sex and relationships. Her lyrics were full of references to exchanges of identities between lovers: "I really like you, baby / I want to be you"; "Please let me into your eyes"; and "Spend the night inside of my skin" in a song called, "I Could Have Been You." This lyrical focus was the point of distinction in Etheridge's songs, which otherwise came off as generic Americana rock, full of small-town imagery—jeans, t-shirts, tattoos, Wal-Mart—that she failed to valorize as Springsteen did. The other distinguishing characteristic, as it was in all her albums, was Etheridge's impassioned performing style—she may not have had a lot to say or much craft in saying it, but she wanted you to know she really meant it. One is tempted to say that listeners may have had enough of that aggressive posture by this point, since, surprisingly, Your Little Secret was an initial commercial disappointment after the career breakthrough of the multi-million-selling Yes I Am. (Maybe the album rocked a little too hard for the VH1 crowd that had bought Yes I Am after its videos entered saturation rotation. The decline of AOR radio also may have been a factor.) In fact, though, the album probably suffered due because it arrived right on the heels of the belated breakthrough of Yes I Am, which turned into a smash in 1995 after having been released in September 1993. Island would have been wiser to withhold the followup for six months. Over the longer term, however, Etheridge's challenge would be to grow as a writer, now that incessant touring and a string of good-but-not-great albums finally had brought her to the platinum threshhold. Your Little Secret left the question about such growth open.

Customer Reviews

My favorite Melissa Etheridge album

I'll start this review by saying I think YOUR LITTLE SECRET is Melissa's best album by far, and I believe it is often overlooked and underrated. That can be expected, after the huge success of YES I AM, but this album is not YES I AM, it stands on it's own, not in YES I AM's shadow. This is one amazing album, I can't even find one song on here that is not excellent. With YOUR LITTLE SECRET, Melissa used her road band in the studio, and the result is excellent. Also working with producer John Stanks and Hugh Padgham. In almost every song on SECRET, there is a guitar solo or an instrumental, this shows how comfortable Melissa is with her band and letting them do their own thing, and the result is some great music. The solo's on songs like This War Is Over, Change, I Could Have Been You, Your Little Secret, etc are nothing short of amazing. In respect this is a very personal album it seems for Melissa. Shriner's Park makes reference to her days growing up in Kansas, and she said it was the most difficult song to complete for the album because she couldn't get it right, but it sounds like she finally did as its an amazing song. Nowhere To Go could also be a song about growing up in Kansas, where there is "nowhere to go" apparantely. Songs like All The Way To Heaven and This War Is Over are touching songs, kind of like quiet storms in a way. Then there are the rockin' songs like the title track which has to be one of her best songs ever, I Want To Come Over (one could argue its the other person in the relationship talking, from Come To My Window). An Unusual Kiss seems to deal with a 3 way affair, or a threesome if you will. There's not enough I can say about this album, that makes me think it is her best. You get a personal feeling when you hear the album, like Melissa is confiding in you, and you can tell how great she gets along with her band, based on the excellent music they make. There is no album like this one, forget what others say about it and just listen, its an amazing album. 5 Stars!