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  • Cy White

Melissa Etheridge: One Way Out

Auntie Melissa did not come to play with you children. As if Mrs. Etheridge could be anything other than absolute blues-rock perfection.

Since her debut album way back in 1988, she's been the epitome of hard sangin' and even harder lyrics. She's as raw as ever, a voice like satin-covered barbed wire and lyrics that cut to the core of a person. There's really nowhere to hide when she gets her hooks in you. Her first album since 2019's The Medicine Show, One Way Out continues a tradition of music that in many ways no longer exists. Her is music out of time, yet it fits in every decade. She's not a '90s artist. No. Melissa Etheridge is an artist...period.

She starts the album with all the stomp and smack you'd expect. Title track "One Way Out" sets the tone, letting you know right away she's not afraid to push you to the limit. But don't mistake the way she delivers her music as one-dimensional. Yes, she sings hard and from the gut. But that same emotional openness fits perfectly into far more tender packages ("I'm No Angel," "Wild Wild Wild").

Then in a turn of brilliance, the final two songs of the album are from a live set. Just in case you were wondering if Mrs. Etheridge has lost a step somewhere or her voice was smoothed out in the studio. The woman is formidable and can (and did, in fact) bring audiences to their knees with just the cocky smirk behind her lyrics. The cheeky snarl she wraps around some words.

One Way Out is an apt title. Melissa Etheridge makes it clear there's only one option when it comes to listening to her: embrace it. Because the alternative is to deny yourself something magical and forever live in a world of silence and utter boredom. Damn, the world needs Melissa Etheridge around, if for nothing else to show up every couple years just to keep music on its toes.

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