Broken Bracelet, by Michelle Branch
When I thought to write about the whole Michelle Branch  discography (not as massive a challenge as one would expect), I wanted to begin with her independent solo album. Given the fact that no new copies of this album have been made for some time and that many of the songs appeared later on her major label debut, I was unable to obtain a physical copy of the album to review. Released on indie label Twin Dragon, the album did not chart nor did it have any singles, but it marks the beginning of the recorded career of Michelle Branch, so on those grounds alone it is worthwhile. Fortunately, I was able to find a way to stream the album online, so without further ado here is the track-by-track review of Michelle Branch’s independent debut in the order from the streamed album:
If Only She Knew: A less sassy version of the album track on The Spirit Room, this is still a lovely campfire singalong version with strumming cars and lovely vocal harmonies. I like the more familiar version a bit more, but this is still a worthy effort full of romantic yearning, a common Michelle Branch sentiment.
Sweet Misery: The same version of the song that became an album track on The Spirit Room, this is sweet and lovely song, full of youthful lyricism, about a relationship that causes sweet misery. This song, about an awkward sort of flirtatious friendship, is certainly one I can relate to all too painfully.
Washing Machine: This is an inventive and somewhat quirky love song that compares a dysfunctional relationship to a washing machine where Michelle Branch feels it necessary to say what she feels. It is an unusual track and the metaphor is an unusual one, but it is full of sweet strumming and lovely vocals and is another gem to be used for acoustic concert moments.
I’d Rather Be In Love: One of the songs that was re-recorded for The Spirit Room, this version has a really quirky instrument track that is more peppy and memorable than the more familiar album track. Like the other tracks, this shows a songwriter still working on her craft, but it’s a lovely song about romantic yearning.
Paper Pieces: This song, which also did not make the cut for The Spirit Room, has a bit more of an alternative or emo feel than most of her material, looking forward to a lover picking up the pieces and helping to put her back together. This is certainly a rather immature effort, but it is entertaining and the music is really interesting. This is something that should have been released on 90’s radio, as it would have given people a picture of Branch’s broad range as an artist from the beginning.
Stewart’s Coat: This song combines some sweet guitar work with some absolutely gorgeous and sweet singing from Michelle Branch. This is yet another song from her deep catalog that she should break out for concerts. This beautiful love song is really special, and one that absolutely deserves to be better known, even as a cover of the talented Rickie Lee Jones hit.
I’ll Always Be Right There: A fairly slow piano ballad with some synth strings added for variety, this ballad of romantic devotion is a sweet one and certainly a worthy song from the young singer-songwriter. It’s not an amazingly inventive song, to be sure, but it’s lovely and charming and the sort of song that any gentleman would be happy to hear from a lady.
Goodbye To You: This was a slower and more stripped-down acoustic version of the melancholy ballad that would end up being Michelle Branch’s third top 40 single from The Spirit Room, and sounds like the sort of thing that she would play for the Michelle Branch unplugged album. That needs to be a thing.
Second Chances: This beautiful song has the feel of an early country song by the singer, looking at the presence or absence of second chances in one’s romantic relationships. It’s a lovely song that fits squarely within the Michelle Branch canon of music, material she would mine over and over again with great success.
Leap Of Faith: Although she sounds very young and the song is a barebones acoustic girl-with-a-guitar number, this song about romantic longings and the desire for intimacy puts this youthful effort clearly in Michelle Branch’s wheelhouse as a recording artist. This is the sort of track that one would expect her to pull out on occasion while on tour even if it didn’t make the cut for The Spirit Room.
Sweet Misery (acoustic): A lovely acoustic track, this is yet another member of the “should be on a Michelle Branch acoustic album.” It’s a shame that there aren’t too many MTV Unplugged albums released anymore, as this would be part of a good one, or a VH1 Storytellers album, as there has to be a good story behind it.
This album is more or less what you would expect Michelle Branch’s debut to sound like, for the most part. It has lovely acoustic numbers full of sappy and romantic lyrics, a few songs that are familiar to longtime fans and some forgotten songs that deserve to be better known. “Sweet Misery,” “Goodbye To You,” and “Paper Pieces” are the standouts here, and any one of them could have been a hit single from this album–of which only “Goodbye To You” ended up becoming a hit. Even in its more obscure moments, and even after lovelorn acoustic ballad after lovelorn acoustic ballad, this album retains a great deal of charm.
 See, for example: