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CD Review: Melissa Etheridge

Fearless Love (Island)

Melissa Etheridge's last album, 2007's The Awakening, was a semi-religious meditation on her battle with breast cancer, as well as the spiritual awareness she developed during her recovery. On Fearless Love, her tenth album, Etheridge plugs in and unleashes a dozen-song set about love and fear and the hazy line that often crosses between them. Producer John Shanks — who's worked with Bon Jovi and Sheryl Crow — plasters Fearless Love with rock-radio standbys like echoing vocals, glistening choruses, and a big, punchy sound suited for Etheridge's equally huge songs. Etheridge blasts some mighty big hooks here — "The Wanting of You" and the title tune especially sound primed for radio play — but she's also well-versed in the rock cliché, loading Fearless Love with predictable turns (is that a sitar and tabla in "We Are the Ones"?). And the ballads are particularly soggy. But now that she's gotten the "serious" albums out of her system, Etheridge can get back to what she does best: making ordinary music about ordinary things.

Michael Gallucci

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