With chart success on both sides of the Atlantic and a double platinum album in North America, Michelle Branch was making a name for herself at the beginning of the millennium, but record company wrangling means this is her first solo album in 14 years. Her UK fans clearly haven't forgotten her though - a recent show at the Lexington in London quickly sold out, while a New York release day show is scheduled for April 7th.
Immediately introducing a more mature pop sound, 'Best You Ever' features fuzzy guitars and simple "whoa whoa" vocals that are effective and catchy. Lyrically, it is more genuine that the generic or angst content of her earlier work, which may not be surprising given the easily researched tribulations of her life in the last decade or so. 'You're Good' continues the groove, before 'Fault Line' is simply one of her best ever efforts. The chorus is sweeping and falsetto delivery provides variation to the vocal delivery. The title track is a hypnotic slow-burner, while 'Knock Yourself Out' finds Branch in an honest mood over a country sound that revisits her work in The Wreckers. A sassy vibe powers 'Temporary Feeling', which features an infectious "do do do" hook, while 'Carry Me Home' is breezy indie pop and 'Not A Love Song' revels in separation. 'Bad Side' proves somewhat of a blip toward the tail end, but 'Hopeless Romantic' ultimately acts as a fine reminder of the talent that saw Branch signed up as a label mate to Alanis Morissette on Madonna's Maverick stable. Still more than capable of a fine tune, she now records with a life experience and honesty that makes for compelling work.