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The Spirit Room (Deluxe Version)

Michelle Branch

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Album Review

You have to keep reminding yourself that 2001 newcomer Michelle Branch is only 17 years old when listening to her worthy pop/rock debut The Spirit Room. The 11-track set showcases this precocious artist on guitar (electric and acoustic) and a substantial vocal presence that blends innocence, passion, vulnerability, yearning, intensity, and tenderness all in one voice. She also has a knack for crafting melodic vocal leads, which further define her infectious sound. However, what truly shines through are the young musician's lyrics — she handles much of the songwriting — which are some of the most open, simple, and idealistic ruminations on love to drop in 2001. It's no surprise that the disc's first single release, the lively and heartfelt "Everywhere" — with its electric-guitar power chords, spirited vocal delivery, and catchy chorus — spread like wildfire on the radio. Elsewhere, the sugary mid-tempo rock ballad "You Get Me" is an endearing and clever spin on the romantic pairing of two misfits. There's nothing more fulfilling and powerful than having the unconditional understanding, acceptance, and love of another, particularly for those a bit "left of center," as the song explains, and Branch well captures the essence of this life treasure. The album's most captivating moment is the mesmerizing "Drop in the Ocean," which, to be sure, symbolizes Branch's Spirit Room. On it her voice, backed by slow and building synth chords, departs from its usual energetic sound and becomes throaty, deep, and ethereal. And Branch's lyrics — "Love took me by the hand/love took me by surprise/love led me to you/and love opened up my eyes/I was drifting away like a drop in the ocean, now I realize/that nothing has been as beautiful as when I saw heaven's skies/in your eyes" — take the musical depiction of love to a spiritual level, and that doesn't happen often in contemporary pop/rock, particularly not by a 17 year old. Of note is producer John Shanks' (Stevie Nicks, Melissa Etheridge, and BBMak, among others) great mix; textured backing vocals and overdubs, and a creative use of drum machines, modern beat sounds, and turntables set to a backdrop of rock music, puts a fresh spin on the genre. No doubt, Branch is an artist with a bright future, and that's lucky for music listeners. She has enough spirit to fill not just one room, but many.

Customer Reviews

She did it again!

I love how this video is so organic and honest. Michelle doesn't need any glitz and glam to be awesome. :)

No words to express.

This woman is an example of how women can be beautiful inside and out. I'm 13 right now and first got this album when I turned 5 years old, and I knew all of the songs by heart a few days later. I think this was her best album, and she'll always be one of the most significant role models in my life. THIS is what teenaged girls should be looking up to, NOT Miley Cyrus or Heidi Pratt (Montag), or anybody (exception of Lauren Conrad, I have to say I like her) on those dumb reality shows. But, I'm not going to go on and on bashing those shows like I do at home. Michelle Branch is my idol. Forever and EVER.

the spirit room

what a great way to revisit a great record!

Biography

Born: July 2, 1983 in Flagstaff, AZ

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although she rose to fame during the teen pop era, Michelle Branch — who was 17 years old when her debut album, The Spirit Room, began its double-platinum run in 2001 — modeled her own songs after iconic alt-rock females like Lisa Loeb and Melissa Etheridge. Raised in Arizona, Branch sang throughout her childhood but didn’t pick up the guitar until her 14th birthday, when she received the instrument as a gift. Within a week, she’d written her first song. Branch’s parents eventually decided...
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The Spirit Room (Deluxe Version), Michelle Branch
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