Ingrid Michaelson | Girls and Boys (Cabin 24)

cd_ingrid.jpgHere, I thought, is my next Aimee Mann girl crush, someone whose gorgeous, heartbreaking voice is matched by engaging storytelling and simple, piano-driven instrumentation.






I popped Girls and Boys by keyboardist/singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson into my car’s CD player and asked for a frank appraisal from one of the most opinionated people I know: My daughter Madeline.

"Oh, I love it!" she gushed.

"Why?" I pressed.

"She sings about whole grain bread!"

Michaelson’s lyrics are indeed quirky on Girls and Boys, a collection of radio-friendly, piano-driven musings on relationships good, bad and broken. If I were a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, I surely would have recognized her McDreamy voice from the ABC series’ 2007 season finale. (That single, "Keep Dreaming," is available exclusively on the Grey’s Anatomy, Vol. 3 Soundtrack.) Michaelson’s music was first featured in a November 2006 episode of the popular drama, thanks to her discovery on myspace by the founder of the management company Secret Road Music Services. Now the 27-year old, part-time children’s theater coach is focusing full-time on her burgeoning music career. Care to contribute to the pressing of Michaelson’s next T-shirt or CD? Pick up Girls and Boys. The first track entitled "Die Alone," the one with the Madeline-approved reference to whole grain bread, is truly wonderful, with tight harmonies and memorable hooks. "I never thought I could love anyone but myself/ Now I know I can’t love anyone but you!" Michaelson warbles. Here, I thought, is my next Aimee Mann girl crush, someone whose gorgeous, heartbreaking voice is matched by engaging storytelling and in Michaelson’s case, simple, piano-driven instrumentation.

The third track "Breakable" is an equally delectable gem. "Have you ever thought about what protects our hearts? Just a cage of rib bones and other various parts. So it’s fairly simple to cut right through the mess and to stop the muscle that makes us confess. We are so fragile, and our cracking bones make noise, and we are just breakable, breakable, breakable girls and boys." If that’s not the stuff of a wistful Grey’s Anatomy montage, I don’t know what is.

Michaelson writes songs that wedge themselves into your brain, whether you like it or not. A bouncy reflection on first love entitled "The Hat" soars sweetly. Yet I couldn’t help but wince at the earnest lyrics about knitting an ill-fitting cap for a beau, only to tire of sharing a "tiny bed" with the fellow. Then there’s "Overboard," in which Michaelson defiantly sings, "I could write my name by the age of three, and I don’t need anyone to cut my meat for me/ I’m a big girl now, see my big girl shoes?"

I feel rather guilty complaining about her writing, as she is obviously "making it." It’s plausible that I’m merely experiencing sour-graped jealousy. Perhaps you’ll adore "The Way I Am," in which Michaelson promises she’ll buy her guy Rogaine when he begins to lose his hair. I dunno. She lost me there.

But hey, Madeline loves it. And overall, so do I. A- | Rebecca Reardon

RIYL: Regina Spektor, Norah Jones, Laura Veirs, Ani DeFranco

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