Track by Track: Lights Out

Ingrid Michaelson holds a special place in my heart for a number of reasons. Firstly, she’s one of the more famous alumni of my alma mater, Binghamton University. Secondly her songs have been featured in some TV shows I watch including Grey’s Anatomy, Parenthood, and Brothers & Sisters (and shows I don’t watch like One Tree Hill and The Vampire Diaries). Thirdly her songs have a  way, like many songs do, of reminding me of specific people and places in my life and the memories associated with them them. Her sophomore album Be Ok (2008) reminds me a lot of my sophomore year of college (as well as some other things). Michaelson’s songs are so much fun; you can listen to them as straight pop songs, but underneath there are deeper messages about love, belonging, and being who you are. I am excited to hear this new album, especially with all of the awesome musicians who contribute vocals.

So here are my thoughts upon listening to Ingrid’s new album, Lights Out. It is being released on April 15, but you can stream it in full (like I am doing now) on iTunes First Play. (The tracklist is from Wikipedia so take that for what you will. Also, the lyrics are as I hear them…and I’m notorious for hearing lyrics wrong.)

1. Home

Sweet little opening song featuring classic Ingrid style vocals. Love the opening line “Even in the harshest of winters/I feel so warm.” A lot of her songs have great imagery of cold and rebirth. Maybe it’s due to all the time she spent enduring those cold Binghamton winters. I feel you, girl.

Favorite line: This is my home/Where I go when I don’t know/Where else to go

2. Girls Chase Boys

This is the single from the album and one I’ve heard a few times, but not in full. Love the opening chords, a little different sound than she usually has. Another one of those new songs with a good message which I’m all for.

Favorite line: Yeah I got two hands/One beating heart/And I’ll be alright

3.Wonderful Unknown (featuring Greg Laswell)

I like the drums on this track. It’s weird, I usually don’t notice those kind of things. It’s steady, reminds me of a heartbeat. I also really love her vocals on this track. It almost sounds echoey and far away; very wistful and sweet. Also, I just found out that she’s married to Greg Laswell so that made me love this song even more. He compliments her well without overshadowing.

Favorite line: In the best way/You’ll be the death of me

4. You Got Me (featuring Storyman)

Interesting use of Storyman here, the song is more of a duet than the previous one. I don’t think their vocals are as strong as hers though. Good song, but kind of forgettable. Do like the use of horns near the middle to end.

5. Warpath

Like the sound a lot. Reminds me a lot of “man hating country music” that I love so much (see: Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert). I can already tell this is one of those songs that I’ll be singing pretty loudly while driving (alone) in my car.

6. Handsome Hands

Love the sound of this song, reminds me a lot of her last album, Human Again (2012) in a good way. Very haunting. I can definitely see this being used in trailers the way it rises to a crescendo near the end.

7. Time Machine

Now this sounds the most like old Ingrid, but just a little bit groovier. Has a good toe tapping sound and I like the use of the sax. Lyrics aren’t my favorite, they’re kind of repetitive, but I like the overall feeling.

8. One Night Town (featuring Mat Kearney)

I’m dancing in my seat which is always a good sound. This one sounds like old Ingrid too, reminds me of “This is War” mixed with “Be OK” and a faster beat. I like the addition of Mat Kearney, makes it more pop-ey and fun. It’s one of those songs that I feel should be played over a montage of scenes from my life.

Favorite line: Headlight, heartbreak/We’ll go our own way

9. Open Hands (featuring Trent Dabbs)

Love the piano. This song has such a romantic, but also sad feeling. I want to see the lyrics for this song when the album is released because I feel like there is more then you can get with just one listen. I get the impression that this song will be really good live with her singing and playing along.

10. Ready to Lose (featuring Trent Dabbs)

Another really sweet, slow ballad. The piano is pretty, but less noticeable on this track; it’s more about her voice here. I like these two songs playing back to back, but I hope the next song isn’t as slow or this second half of the album will feel bogged down. I like the lyrics as well. They’re simple, but powerful about the fear of entering a relationship and the need for security. I think this song is one of my favorites.

Favorite line: I’m ready to lose/Everything to you/Tell me that you’re mine/Say it one more time

11. Stick

Good, but after the last song this one seems average. There is one section featuring violins prominently that I like. Another song I would like to read the lyrics to understand them more clearly.

Favorite line: Did any of me stick at all?

12. Afterlife

Well this is very different than the song by Arcade Fire with the same title; I don’t know why I’m surprised. Both have an upbeat sound, this one is a little simpler and better for dancing. It’s one of those “we are young let’s celebrate” songs which I love so much. I’m interested to see what will be the second single released, this one could be a fun one. I hope it at least gets a video.

Favorite line: Living like you’re dying isn’t living at all/Give me your cold hands/Put them on my heart

13. Over You (featuring A Great Big World)

Starts out sad and beautiful. I like the way the A Great Big World’s section is the same as the one Ingrid sings and then the vocals overlap. I think I like “Say Something” more though which is why I was originally so excited to hear this pairing.

14. Everyone is Gonna Love Me Now

Good ending track. Part lullaby, part wish. The lyrics say, “Maybe I can go away” but I don’t want her to or for this album to end. It’s lovely and there are some really great songs. Love the build up and then how it fades out right at the end. Beautiful.

Now that I’ve streamed the album in full I can’t wait to get my hands on the real thing.

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