Album Review by EDF
It’s hard to believe that Michelle Branch is still in her teens and the follow-up to her debut album THE SPIRIT ROOM should at least show an artist who is developing her skills. Fresh from appearing on Santana’s GAME OF LOVE, HOTEL PAPER begins with ARE YOU HAPPY NOW, a blistering guitar rock in a Sheryl Crow style. In fact looking at the song titles, you can half imagine what the rest of the album will be about.
EMPTY HANDED is a slow rocking track that builds up, aided by grandiose violins and should really sound angrier than it really is. In fact, close comparisons with a certain Alanis Morissette is hard to ignore but Michelle comes over as far too sweet to be nasty or angry. Instead we get some introspective songs like ONE OF THESE DAYS which is supposed to make us feel a bit of sympathetic to Michelle’s plight. The album would work if only the tracks had their own identity instead of sounding similar and dull.
Michelle has tried hard to top her debut album and in the process has failed to recreate the sort of magic she expressed on her magical Santana collaboration. It might be a case of the second difficult album blues but with more up and coming artists who are out to prove that they are more than just fifteen minute wonders, Michelle will have to pull off something remarkable for her next album or she will be left behind.