On The Download: Melissa Etheridge’s ‘Fearless Love’

2010 is turning out to be a pretty gay year for new music releases. With hotly anticipated new releases from Kylie Minogue, Christina Aguilera, Cyndi Lauper and Cher on the horizon for summer, the divas are out in full force.

Not to be outdone in grabbing a piece of the LGBT music-buying audience is rocker Melissa Etheridge (albeit, coming from a completely different sub-genre than the aforementioned), who is out with her tenth studio album this week; her finest album of new material since 1999’s “Breakdown.”

In the cacophony of gossip about the Grammy Award-winning singer’s recently announced break up with partner Tammy Lynn Etheridge – formerly Tammy Lynn Michaels — it’s easy for the casual observer of Melissa on the publicity circuit to forget about why we love the singer in the first place – her amazing musical talents! Following a publicity blitz that includes making the rounds of “Oprah,” “The Tonight Show” and “Dancing with the Stars,” where she is certain to be further bombarded with questions about her break up; but not to be overshadowed… Oh yeah… she has a new album out too, and it’s darn good!

Lead single, “Fearless Love,” is a soaring classic Etheridge track – of the “Come To My Window” variety – a universal anthem of living life free-spirited, and, as the title implies, without self-imposed limitations. Second track, “The Wanting of You,” is like a coda to the lead track. Again, touching on the theme of loving without restriction, “Wanting” soars to the same epic level as “Fearless Love.”

On track three, “Company,” Melissa transitions into a more down-tempo ballad form. As she sings, “All I want is company…” one has to wonder if the deterioration of her relationship was occurring prior to the writing of this album. Is “Fearless Love” indeed a break-up album? It’s unclear; but hindsight 20/20, the album certainly could be listened to and approached as such.

Sure to be the most controversial track on the album is track four, “Miss California,” Melissa’s ode to the Carrie Prejean scandal of summer 2009. With lyrics such as, “Miss California what did I do wrong : It seems I loved you : For just a little too long,” Melissa re-enters the arena of political rock ‘n roll which she’s been known for over the years.

The rest of album continues on with perfectly pleasant tracks that make for more than just average album filler; a trend typical of so many releases in today’s digital age. Track five, “Drag Me Away,” sticks with the political power of the track before it. On later songs with somewhat-generic titles like, “Only Love,” and “To Be Loved,” you get the sense that Melissa is certainly sticking to the topic she knows best. The latter track certainly adds credence to the, “this is a break-up album” theory.

Nonetheless, the album is a joy to listen to from start to finish. The final song on the album, ballad “Gently We Row,” is a lullaby as beautiful as any track I’ve ever heard from the singer. Melissa’s voice (both figuratively and literally) has never sounded stronger. Her passion has never felt more evident. “Fearless Love,” is an inspirational spring release sure to bring smiles to Etheridge fans old and new alike.

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