Michelle Branch is back, and this time with another solo album, called Hopeless Romantic.
By Jane Howkins
Branch has been prolific over the past couple of decades, producing both solo work and music as part of a group, with her being perhaps more commonly known as a member of country duo The Wreckers. Hopeless Romantic doesn’t do much to push the musical boundaries too far away from their original territory but it is an enjoyable album, and one that fans will lap up.
There have been a lot of hopes riding on this album, especially considering that it is Branch’s first solo release in almost 14 years. Thankfully, it pulls through (for the most part anyway), and fans have no reason to fear that things might have changed for the worst in that time. Hopeless Romantic is a very vulnerable album and we don’t think we’ve ever heard Branch sound so honest before. Most of the songs chart her split from her husband Teddy Landau in 2015 and there’s something very powerful and even sombre about the stories Branch weaves through her lyrics.
Fault Line is particularly heart-wrenching, yet oh so addictive. That’s the weird thing about these tracks: the subject matter is generally rather depressing, yet the songs are still almost instantly compelling, drawing you in and getting under your skin from the first listen. What’s also quite interesting is that the album treads the line between Branch’s older, more poppy style, and her newer, country-based sound, with her managing to portray both styles rather well. It’s never outright country at any point, so don’t worry if that’s not your thing, but the mix of styles is done rather well.
Hopeless Romantic won’t change the world, and it’s not particularly genre-changing. However, what Branch has achieved here is remarkable. Not only has she produced a catchy record, but she’s managed to come out the other side of a messy divorce with her head held high. Perhaps music is the best medicine, after all.
Hopeless Romantic by Michelle Branch is available now.