Album Review: The Spirit Room

The Spirit Room, by Michelle Branch

The second album [1] in the discography of Michelle Branch [2], this album was the first one I was personally familiar with.  It came along at the right time for me to feel as if the author was speaking of the sort of concerns I had in life, and still do, and as both Michelle Branch and I are the sort of people who go over the same ground over and over again looking for better results, this album makes for an interesting experience to listen to more than fifteen years after it originally came out.  The album was a massive success, spawning three top 40 hits and selling more than two million copies, and it holds up well even now.  Here is a track-by-track review:

Everywhere:  The first hit from this album, even now this song is an infectious and encouraging song about romantic longing and the feeling that one’s romantic partner may not appear.  To be sure, this is not the sort of material that one normally feels upbeat about, but it’s a lovely song about the way our hopes and dreams play tricks with us.

You Get Me:  This is a sweet song about someone getting someone who feels out of place.  Even if the lyrics are more than a little bit cliched, the sentiments are good ones, even if Michelle Branch is neither particularly left-of-center or out of tune, both of which are much for the better.

All You Wanted:  The second hit single from this album, this song is a mid-tempo and upbeat number about the way that the singer’s caring and concern was all that some lucky guy wanted.  This is another song that holds up as a solid pop song years after its release and massive play on the radio.

You Set Me Free:  This lovely upbeat song of romantic devotion covers well-trod ground but it is a lovely song and a worthy album track on a great album.  The swelling vocals and instruments at the end of the chorus and the talkbox closing are a nice touch that elevate this song from the ordinary.

Something To Sleep To:  This song is a moody song about the narrator’s devotion to a guy who is cheating on his girl, and makes the narrator seem at least a little bit unsympathetic in being the “other woman.”  This song might be the first inkling of the joke/reputation that would lead to the formation of the Wreckers.

Here With Me:  Another song full of cliched lyrics, this is nevertheless a surprisingly lovely song for such a depressing subject, the longing for a lover who has gone away because the narrator has strongly ambivalent feelings about intimacy, the sort of song that I can totally identify with.

Sweet Misery:  The appearance of this song here is the third appearance of that song on the first two albums of Michelle Branch, and it is still a sweet one with the somewhat spooky and chilly vocal effects.  This song could easily have been a single, and would likely have found an appreciative audience on AC radio if she had gone that direction.

If Only She Knew:  This song, which appeared previously on Broken Bracelet in a less upbeat version, is a lovely but awkward song about a woman who is friends with a guy who she likes and had some kind of relationship with even though he has moved on and is in relationship with another girl.  Michelle Branch sure knows how to embrace the awkwardness, I suppose.

I’d Rather Be In Love:  This song is a lovely re-recording of the track from Broken Bracelet, and is another song about yearning for a relationship that is over.  There are times when many of us, myself included, feel alone and would rather feel in love.  The sentiment is appealing in large part because it is so universal, and is expressed rather straightforwardly here.

Goodbye To You:  The third hit single from this album, this song is markedly improved from its debut on Broken Bracelet, largely because the soaring instrumentation helps to provide a contrast to the song’s melancholy and moody lyrics about moving on.  This song was a worthy hit, and reflects the somewhat downbeat mood of much of Michelle Branch’s work.

Drop In The Ocean:  A song that sounds like it could have been on Broken Bracelet, this sweet and touching number closes the album on a direction that could have allowed for a quirky dance hit had the label decided to release this gorgeous piece of music, maybe with a dance remix (if it even needed that).

There is no question that Michelle Branch’s lyrics here are not nearly as odd or original as she would like to have thought, but even after so many years, this album is still a winning and charming album full of heartfelt singing and beautiful instrumental work and one can definitely feel a sense of authenticity and sincerity that sells the songs here.  The album had three hits and could easily have had a couple of more hits with the right promotion and a willingness to see Michelle Branch as a cross-format artist, something that she would increasingly become.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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5 Responses to Album Review: The Spirit Room

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