Michelle Branch?s new CD, entitled ?The Spirit Room,? is good, bad, lively and boring all at the same time. There are moments in which light falls from her lyrics, but darkness usually follows soon after.

?Everywhere? is the album?s first track. It seems to be an average song with all the usual love song lyrics, but soon I began to wonder if Christianity inspired her words. She alludes to someone that is everywhere to her, and that ?It?s hard to think that / You might not be real.?

?You Get Me? is a nice, little song. The words speak for themselves, ?Some say I?m paranormal / So I just bend their spoon / Who wants to be ordinary?I don?t care what they?re sayin? / As long as I?m your girl.?

The third song, ?All You Wanted,? is disgustingly normal and poppy like many of the others, but there?s still hope for the rest of the CD.

The next song assures me that Branch?s music is predictable. This song sounds a bit like something Britney Spears would sing ? and this is not a good thing. ?You Set Me Free? contains clich lyrics, although some seem to be unexplainably heartfelt.

Up to this point in the album, all the songs begin to sound alike. They are all poppy, rather fast, and the chorus in each comes at the exact same time.

The fifth track finally brings something different. ?Something to Sleep to? is slower and flows more beautifully than the others. Sadly enough, the chorus still sounds the same as it does in past songs.

The chorus in ?Here With Me? makes up a little for the others. Branch sings, ?I know you had to go away / I died just a little, and I feel it now / You?re the one I need.? The soft guitar chords mid-song are pretty.

In ?Sweet Misery? I can feel the ?80?s ? Madonna ? I like this song! It would be a nice song to drive to. The lyrics repeat themselves too much, but this doesn?t ruin the song. ?I was weak / And you were strong / And me and my guitar, / we strummed along.?

The next song has a good beginning, but her girly-sweet voice is becoming hard to listen to. However, ?If Only She Knew? does have value. It is different and has a boldness that the others lack. She sounds more like Tracy Bonham than Britney here, except when the chorus inevitably comes.

?I?d Rather Be in Love? is beautiful. Branch says, ?Cause when there?s you, I feel whole / And there?s no better feeling in the world / But without you I?m alone / And I?d rather be in love with you.? Later Branch asks, ?Why are we afraid to be in love?? At least she?s making us think ? a little.

There?s a slow start to ?Goodbye to You.? It has the feeling of a ballad, slow and daring. It would be a good song to slow-dance to.

?Drop in the Ocean? ends the CD positively ? it may be the best song of them all. Branch sings, ?And now I realize that / nothing has been as beautiful /As when I saw heaven?s skies / In your eyes.? Best of all, this poetry is not destroyed by a bad chorus like most of the others.

Though almost every song sounds ordinary enough to be on the top of the pop charts, some of Branch?s words are truly poetic. Buy it if you like women who sing about love.

Branch will open for Lifehouse at the Louis Alexander Palestra on Sept. 23 at 8:00 p.m. Only bleacher seating is still available, and tickets are $15.00 with UR ID and $18.00 for the general public.

Schaefer can be reached at jschaefer@campustimes.org.

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