Album Reviews

Melissa Etheridge – The Medicine Show – Album Review


I have loved Melissa Etheridge’s music since seeing the film Boys On The Side and being obsessed with the song Take You With Me. That song changed my life music wise and I don’t think she has ever released anything that isn’t short of amazing. Melissa is a very important musican and an activist for human rights, LGBTQ issues, breast cancer awareness and alternative medical issues. This new album The Medicine Show surrounds all of those issues and more such as politics, the state of the world.

Etheridge’s naturally raw, rocky vocals represent her views very strongly as her voice is incredibly real and emotional and you know she means every word that she sings. There is so much depth and soul to Melissa’s music and The Medicine Show in no exception. From the intro title track The Medicine Show you are instantly hooked by the songs slight punk rock edge that screams activist and empowerment.

A little remedy never do you no harm, c’mon down to mama’s farm.”

Wild and Lonely is instantly catchy. There is something so incredibly infectious in Melissa’s voice. This song is about being on the road and missing family and having all those anxious thoughts at night time.

Shaking was an instant favourite for me. It has so much power to it and the energy and intensity in her voice is insane. Of the song, Melissa said to us:

That song came about when there were some personal financial stuff goung on that is perfectly fine now but at the time I was very worried. It’s one of those situations when you come up against something and you don’t know how it is going to turn out and so I amplified my feelings knowing that there were people feeling like this all over, especially after this election when we don’t really know where our country is headed and what is going on. So many things that feel like the floor is falling out. So I gave it up to everyone and just wrote this full on rock, anxiety song you know haha”

Woman Like You begins with a lovely piano intro. A rock ballad with a lot of meaning, this song is likely relatable to most people, whether that be to someone you loved or someone who had life so frustratingly easy due to their appearance. Here’s the twist though, there is a bit more to it than that though which delves back into the anxiety aspect of the album. Lyrics such as “You give a piece of your body But still, you keep the darkness of a heart that’s blind
It’s weighing heavy on your mind.” 
Read into it what you will but to me, it seems as though despite their appearance, life wasn’t easy for long and when it got tough they didn’t know what to do and could no longer use their good looks to gloss over it. The beautiful yet solemn part is that everyone can face mental illness and anxiety despite putting on a brave face. I found this song particularly sad because of the assumptions that a good looking woman shouldn’t have to go through, well, anything at all. I think there will be a lot of thought with this song amongst fans. Great song with so much to talk about.

Faded By Design has that great nineties feel to it that we love so much in Melissa’s music, well that was when I discovered her so that familiar sound is always incredibly inviting. What is so great about this album and this song is Melissa’s writing, the interpretation – people will have their own ideas about what the songs are about and will likely mould the songs to their own personal experiences which is what Melissa actually hopes happens. When we spoke to her about Shaking for example, she said:

“That’s when I feel my work is the best, when I feel I can really write something that people can fit to their own circumstances and take the song in their own way. That’s the best.”

A truly stunning rock ballad comes in the form of I Know You. It is breathtakingly beautiful. The emotion in Melissa’s voice really captures life experience, pain, everything. This song seems to be about the end of a very long relationship. It is truly heart-rending and melancholic to listen to. I feel every word in her voice.

This Human Chain has a cool 80’s twist to it in the melody which is awesome. I love the beat and all the instrumentation to it. A song seemingly about taking responsibility for your own life, the song is actually a lot of fun. Can’t get over the infectious 80’s style though, I love it! Those affective, somewhat cheesy beats that actually work really really well.

Love Will Live is such a great example of the endless talent of Melissa Etheridge. How many times will I say just how important this album is and how therapeutic? This song speaks of breaking through those bad times and coming out the other side so much stronger. Life experiences are important, even the bad ones sometimes and breaking through that pain and making yourself stronger is damn tough but achievable and like Melissa, using your pain to make you a better person and to help others is therapy and a healer in itself as there is always someone else that can heal from another’s experiences and words and guidance.

Here Comes The Pain is hard to review and not in a bad way. The lyrics are so heavy and deep that I feel slightly unqualified to say anything other than just listen to it and hear the lyrics but also that know everything is going to be ok.

Suede starts with an acoustic feel and flows into a more guitar based track but still has that acoustic edge. Melissa sings of wasted years and trying not to regret that

Just like the marks on my guitar
Just like the scratches on my heart
Some things ain’t ever gonna fade
I’ll never get back all those years
But now, I’m taking back those tears
Tonight, I’m falling into suede, yeah”

The album ends with Last Hello. A hauntingly beautiful tune that has a strong ghostly feel to it (hence the hauntingly beautiful comment). The song has an anthem like feel to it with a gorgeous atmospheric vibe. The song keeps building up instrumentation wise from shy to a confident loud sound. A song that was inspired by the tragic parkland shooting. This song is devastatingly good. The melody speaks volumes as well as the words, Melissa has truly captured the translation of the tragedy into music and words well. Sad that she had to.

This day will end, and oh, I miss you
I will rise again, and oh, I miss you
I’ll find the strength within
To shout, “Never again”
Wish I could see my friend
Oh, I miss you
Oh, I miss you”

If you want to listen to an artist who writes the truth with nothing hidden, if you want to listen to an artist who has lived and breathed the words they write and sing and if you want to listen to an artist who pours their heart and soul into all of that and in their voice then Melissa Etheridge is the one for you and The Medicine Show is the album for you. My goodness, what a collection of unbelievably, incredible and passionate songs that are almost like a remedy, a prescription that you actually enjoy. With mental health being sadly on the rise, this album is so important. It is also important to know that those who suffer do not suffer alone and that anyone from all walks of life suffer too.

Listen to The Medicine Show here

Purchase The Medicine Show here



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