Everything Comes and Goes
Releasing: 10 November
When I think of Michelle Branch's forthcoming country album, Everything Comes and Goes, I think of a conversation about God I had with an old girlfriend. I said that I didn't believe but thought that true belief exists as a part of someone, on an essential, inviolable level, and there's nothing anyone can say or do to compromise it. She looked at me like I was a third-degree blockhead, so I conceded that yes, perhaps the belief or disbelief that at first blush seems so essential and inviolable is actually the product of eons of cultural conditioning, concerted assaults from sinister, powerful forces in the world; this made sense intellectually, but was still a viscerally unsatisfying concession.
Judging from her new single, "Sooner or Later" (not a cover of the 1971 Grass Roots hit), Michelle Branch country songs aren't all that different from Michelle Branch pop songs. The guitars are a bit twangier, and when she pronounces "about" it sounds more like "abayowt", which is not a word, but the chords are still simple, and the lyrics are still melodramatic in so calculated of a way as to remain completely unobtrusive.
It won't be her first country crossover effort (see: the Wreckers' Stand Still, Look Pretty), and she's still cooing just as coyly as she was when she first came out with whatever song it was that made so many of the shy brunette girls in my high school class want to learn guitar. She was speaking to people then and she'll speak to people now. All the PR dollars in the world can't mess with that certain je ne sais qoui that connects artist and patron: you're going to love the new Michelle Branch, or you're not. It comes out November 10th.