album reviews

Melissa Ferrick
Still Right Here
MPress (2011)

Kindred spirits: Ani DiFranco, Melissa Etheridge, Liz Phair.

Singer-songwriter Melissa Ferrick started her career in the early 1990s on Atlantic Records but turned to independent labels when that relationship went sour. Ferrick has put out her latest, "Still Right Here," on MPress, an indie label run by fellow songwriter Rachael Sage.

That fierce independence isn't as fundamental to her lyrics here as it is for other similarly autonomous singer-songwriters (such as Ani DiFranco), but "Still Right Here" still boasts the breezy spirit of someone who doesn't have a boss to answer to. The title track is a catchy, cheery pop song, while "You Let Me Be," a ballad featuring DiFranco, bears an even more relaxed feel.

Ferrick's upbeat, up-tempo vibe sometimes borders on the schmaltzy. "One of a Kind" celebrates uniqueness but is steeped in cloying truisms that seem too obvious for someone of her experience. (Be forewarned, though: The song may be lyrically simple, but Ferrick's catchy melody is an earworm that will stay with you for days.) "I Will Back You Up" has a similar feel-good tone but no depth of emotion.

Ferrick has mastered the ease of a lighthearted pop song, but much of "Still Right Here" lacks darkness and tension, highlighting one thing a formal label can often provide — a good editor.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 23 September 2011
.: Still Right Here on