Melissa Ferrick's been making music for more than a decade since her Atlantic Records debut, Massive Blur, without making any lasting inroads to the mainstream, despite possessing strong, passionate vocals and a pop sensibility that's absorbed the lessons of Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow and Thea Gilmore. The music on The Other Side -- all recorded by Ferrick on her own -- has a light, folky flow tinged with rustic Americana. While as richly melodic as McLachlan, Ferrick's route is understated, with the spare guitar support and occasions of horns or organ greatly subordinated to the vocal line. Like Crow, there is something refreshingly straightforward about Ferrick, though she lacks Crow's easy charisma, settling instead on a brooding persona that recalls Springsteen around Nebraska. Ferrick's always been notable for the angst and pain that inhabits her albums, and The Other Side is no exception. Like matching pitch, it may take a moment to find the resonant frequency Ferrick's operating from, but once you do, prepare to be overwhelmed by the desperate intensity of her songs. Whether imagining her heart "like blown-out semi-tires all over Nebraska," or complaining "it's not fair, if you've never loved this way," Ferrick's songs are rife with emotional brinkmanship, as though buoyed by the belief that honesty only comes from live, naked wires.
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