On the triumphant opener to her sublime new album, Everybody, Staten Island native Ingrid Michaelson sings, I dont believe in anything but myself. Shes not throwing down a gauntlet on the anthemic and exquisitely orchestrated Soldier, merely inviting listeners to sing along as to her song about the persevering spirit who survives the loss of love (This soldier knows the battle with the heart isnt easily won).
After spending two years touring in support of 2007s Girls and Boys (and seeing her tunes featured on Greys Anatomy and in Old Navy ads), Michaelson returns with the same winning melodic sensibility found on that album (and the 2008 EP, Be Ok), but this time marries it to a fuller sound. Throughout the albums 12 tracks, strings, layered guitar, and acoustic rhythm piano dance with double-tracked harmonies, expanding the singers sonic palette. The irresistible Mountain and The Sea chugs along with furious guitar strumming and a big chorus thats layered with Michaelsons double-tracked vocals. The upbeat, piano-driven Once Was Love also features drum machine percussion. Locked Up is propelled by a stop-start piano and an R&B-inflected chorus. And dont be surprised if you hear the musically crisp title track - a hand clapper propelled by strummed ukulele and the chorus everybody, everybody wants to be loved - in an earnest film or television show.
Meanwhile, lyrics of love, loss and the perseverance in the aftermath of both permeate this release. On Men of Snow Michaelson laments, one day youll know, were men of snow/we melt, with acoustic instrumentation swelling in the background.
Indeed, the ballads that made her debut a success form the heart of Everybody. Lyrical piano opens Sort Of, which boasts perhaps the albums best line: I find you stunning/but you are running me down. As the song builds to a crescendo, harmonies weave in and out of each other to truly stunning effect. The sultry, bluesy feel of Incredible Love marks another departure for Michaelson, with her yearning lyrics (Everything says its time to go, but the smell of your skin makes me stay) brought to life by an almost gospel-like chorus.
The albums best song is one familiar to fans who have seen Michaelson live. The Chain has been a staple of her concerts, and appeared on Be Ok in live form. This version expands the song into a majestic sound collage before ending on Michaelsons crystalline vocal.
Everybody finds Michaelson confident and assured in both her singing and songwriting, expanding her sound, but maintaining her indie spirit.