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Album Review

Melissa Etheridge wasn't out of the closet when she released Yes I Am in 1993, yet it's hard not to notice the defiant acclamation in the album's title. This barely concealed sense of sexual identity seeps out from the lyrics, and it informs the music as well, which is perhaps the most confident she has ever been. It's also the most professional she's ever been (perhaps not a coincidence), as she belts out these unapologetically anthemic numbers with a sense of finesse that's suited to lifestyle newspaper pages, not rock & roll, thereby setting herself up for her bout with celebrity during the second half of the '90s. Yes I Am wouldn't have been as convincing if it wasn't so slick, though; her Springsteen-isms and Janis tributes are tempered by songs that work as album rock favorites, even if they aren't as epic or passionate as their inspirations. She may not have songs as great as she did the first time out — "Somebody Bring Me Some Water" remains her finest moment — but she has a sense of purpose and identity that suits her well. And that identity wound up being the touchstone for the rest of her career.

Top Albums and Songs by Melissa Etheridge