Ingrid Michaelson – Lights Out

Ingrid Michaelson - Lights Out

Ingrid Michaelson’s sixth record, featuring the hit Girls Chase Boys

Ingrid Michaelson has become a defender of fair concert ticket prices. Recently she took to Twitter after seeing tickets for a $40 show of hers being sold on StubHub for nearly $300, calling out scalpers, which she called “greedy people” and “rats”. Afterward, she announced she would personally ensure only fans would get tickets for a later show by allowing only one per transaction.

It might be a drastic measure but as Ingrid has recently discovered, she’s become a big enough draw to attract scalpers and fans alike. With the release of Lights Outs, the singer/songwriter’s sixth record, she’s further proving that the attention is justified.

Earlier in the year, Ingrid previewed the album with its first single and video Girls Chase Boys, marking a change of direction from her usual melodic guitar-sing-alongs to straight-up ear-worm. The unassuming New Yorker with the thick-rimmed glasses also turned some heads with the song’s gender-blurring video, which she calls an homage to Robert Palmer‘s Simply Irresistible (or Shania Twain‘s Man! I Feel Like A Woman! for those too young to remember).

The song is one of a number of undeniable ear-worms on the record, ensuring that this is the one that sticks. One Night Town is practically made-for-radio as it also features Mat Kearney, who has had a consistent presence on Triple-A and Adult Top 40 radio over the years. The song’s chorus is catchy enough to grab but is ultimately too thin to hold for too long. The better option as the album’s most likely contender for radio success is Time Machine. It has just enough attitude to match its scathing lyrics, “you made that bed/good luck falling back asleep,” without being forced or insincere.

Lights Out is Ingrid’s first collaborative record, after writing all of her previous work solo. It really came together as a group effort with co-writers, guest artists and a crowd of supporters in the studio providing backing vocals and instrumentation. The mish-mash of songs that result shows Ingrid’s versatility as a recording artist.

While there are songs that don’t stray too far away from her previous norm, such as opening track Home, others shift her sound from slightly to remarkable. Wonderful Unknown, a song she wrote and recorded with husband Greg Laswell, with its dreamy delivery is comfortably in Sara Bareilles territory, while Handsome Hands takes a page from more dramatic writers and performers like Florence Welsh or Tori Amos. Warpath, on the other hand, is a more humble folk-rock ditty with production reminiscent of the recent Norah Jones/Danger Mouse collaboration.

With Ingrid’s newfound versatility comes a loss of some of the charm she carried on her earlier records. Her goal is to not recreate music she’s already made but the result could be the lack of timelessness that accompanies some of her previous material. In the meantime, however, Lights Out shows her strengths as a songwriter and willing collaborator with a perfect blend of immediate and rewarding pop songs.
Three stars

1. Home
2. Girls Chase Boys
3. Wonderful Unknown [featuring Greg Laswell]
4. You Got Me [featuring Storyman]
5. Warpath
6. Handsome Hands
7. Time Machine
8. One Night Town [featuring Mat Kearney]
9. Open Hands [featuring Trent Dabbs]
10. Ready To Lose [featuring Trent Dabbs]
11. Stick
12. Afterlife
13. Over You [featuring A Great Big World]
14. Everyone Is Gonna Love Me Now

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