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.....She commanded the stage with her unique blend of folk singer and girl-next-door charm—reviving the elegance, subtle intensity and femininity that exudes off a gal and her acoustic guitar. In our world of overproduced-sexualized pop, Branch cuts it back to the basics. Like Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, Branch is a one-woman musical army. While she plays to appreciative paying fans on many a night, I get the feeling she would be just as gratified strumming out a few numbers for pedestrians on a city street corner.
Her voice has matured and taken on a more sturdy tone that is at times chill-inducing.
“Breathe,” that tune that just reassures you that all will be well if you simply exhale, was played with a lively sense of spunk and freedom. This declaration not to sweat the menacing moments had fans singing along. Hearing their voices, void of all stress, I suddenly felt like my chakras were aligned.
The smoothly seductive “The Game of Love,” a 2002 collaboration with Carlos Santana, sounded as fresh as the first time it blazed out of the radio.
Branch’s sister, Nicole, added her vocals to country gemstone “Leave the Pieces,” as well as other tunes throughout the evening.
Next, Branch let us all know that she would play “A love song about drinkin’” called “Jack and Jim.” Before jumping into the ode to bourbon, she said it was a “travesty” that there weren’t more songs dedicated to grandpa’s cough syrup. Folks sipped on their adult bevs, and enjoyed the perfect saloon soundtrack Branch provided for their tipsiness.
She segwayed into mommy-mode with a warm, fresh-out-the-dryer, song that she wrote for her three-year-old daughter, entitled “Crazy Ride.” It was like an audible loving lecture on how to deal with the heartache that coincides with growing up. The twang in her voice stood out against her thoughtful, delicate strumming.
My favorite part of the show was when Branch paid homage to Floridian Tom Petty, with a sizzling cover of “You Wreck Me.” Her band jammed out with reverence, and she slyly switched up the mention of gender within the lyrics— “I’ll be the girl in the corduroy pants/You be the boy at the high school dance.”
She also made sure to keep fans satisfied by playing her hits, such as “Everywhere” and “All You Wanted.”
Branch closed the night with “Are You Happy Now?”— a song title attendees would have answered “yes” to after her fruitful performance.
Back in 2001, Branch may have been thrown into the bouquet of just another withering girly teen act, but since then she has proven otherwise. Forming female-folk-country superduo the Wreckers earned her notoriety in the country music world. Her bluegrass, hillbilly-cred is just another embroidery on her cowgirl boots.
She keeps it simple, unpretentious, relatable and undeniably catchy.
There’s potent talent and serious sincerity blooming on this Branch. As seasons pass there’s no doubt that, like a California Redwood, Branch’s songwriting and playing will grow stronger and more breathtaking with age.
Just a reminder if you are in the Myrtle Beach area to check out Grammy-award winner Michelle Branch in concert at the House of Blues at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $18.50 to $22.50.
Hope to see some familiar faces there!
You may have heard a familiar voice on trailers for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 movie -- yes, it's Michelle Branch singing "Together," a special song she wrote after seeing a cut of the film.
Pre-order the soundtrack now at:
Amazon | iTunes | WBR Store
Based on Ann Brashares' best-selling series of novels about four young women (Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, Alexis Bledel) who share an unbreakable bond through the unpredictable events of their lives, the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 catches up with Tibby, Carmen, Bridget and Lena in the summer following their first year of college. On separate paths now, they strive to keep in touch while experiencing the freedom, love, choices and challenging life lessons that mark their individual journeys toward adulthood.
Listen to "Together" and leave your comments at www.myspace.com/sisterhood2soundtrack
Alongside Michelle's song, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants soundtrack features music from Eric Hutchinson, Hot Hot Heat, and Missy Higgins, with an emphasis on young singer-songwriters.
The soundtrack will be available August 5th, a day before the film opens in theaters nationwide.
The tracklisting for The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 soundtrack is as follows:
1. "Rock & Roll" -- Eric Hutchinson
2. "Together" -- Michelle Branch
3. "Sunset Man" -- James Otto
4. "No One's Aware" -- Jack Savoretti
5. "Warm Whispers" -- Missy Higgins
6. "Friday Night" -- Craig David
7. "Sister Rosetta (Capture the Spirit)" -- Noisettes
8. "5 Times Out Of 100" -- Hot Hot Heat
9. "Girls Just Want To Have Fun" -- Cyndi Lauper
10. "You Are Mine" -- Mute Math
11. "Strange & Beautiful (I'll Put A Spell On You)" -- Aqualung
Pre-order the soundtrack now at:
Amazon | iTunes | WBR Store
For more information about the film, go to http://sisterhoodofthetravelingpants2.warnerbros.com
I JUST got home from doing what is probably the coolest thing I have ever done in my whole life! (besides having Owen, that is!)
I was asked by my friend Holly Williams to sing harmony with her on one of my all-time very favorite artists' new album...Yusuf Islam a.k.a. Cat Stevens. To give you an idea, the very first songs I learned how to play on guitar were his from a songbook of his when I was 14. I've done a lot of really amazing things in my short life but this was on a whole other level. Not only that but Terry Sylvester from The Hollies was also singing. The Hollies. I mean, come on...It's like I died and went to super fan heaven. AAAAANNNNND, the music was so beautiful and fantastic. Sigh.
I think if I would have really thought about it while I was singing I probably would have started crying.