This Is M.E.: Country, R&B, hip-hop influence Melissa Etheridge’s new album.Written by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Melissa Etheridge is rocking on with a little help from new friends.
Released Sept. 30, “This Is M.E.” is the first disc on her label, ME Records.
Rather than rely on a more familiar way of recording, the veteran singer-songwriter decided to shake things up for this collection.
“Instead of writing all the songs and then taking them to different producers, I went to different producers and created songs with each of them,” she said. “So you get this great yummy center, which is always me — you can hear my guitars, you can hear my voice, my lyrics — yet around them is the jet fuel of other artists, like Jon Levine or Jerry ‘Wonda’ [Duplessis], and all of a sudden you can hear these beats and these rhythms that I’ve always wanted.”
In addition to Levine, who has worked with Nelly Furtado, K’Naan and Selena Gomez, and Wonda, who has produced The Fugees, Mary J. Blige and Akon, Etheridge joined forces with Jerrod Bettis, known for collaborating with Adele, OneRepublic and Gavin DeGraw, and Roccstar, who has teamed up with Usher and Chris Brown.
The result: rock, R&B, country, hip-hop — and a hell of a lot of fun.
“It was just a real thrill to work with everyone,” Etheridge said during a call from her California home.
She even did a little recruiting while in the studio.
“[Wonda] is in my band this tour; that’s so exciting. I talked him into coming out on the road with me, so he’s playing bass. His musicians are backing me up; I’ve got my drummer and then his keyboard player, his guitar player. I’ve got two background singers for the first time,” she said.
“It’s so much fun, just really dipping into that R&B side of rock ’n roll. I just feel a little bit more like Joe Cocker than Led Zeppelin this time out.”
Co-written with Bettis, her latest single, “Take My Number,” is classic Etheridge, complete with a catchy chorus sung by that powerful, passionate voice.
“Who Are You Waiting For” is the one track on the disc the Grammy- and Academy Award-winning artist penned herself.
She wrote it for her wife, Linda Wallem.
“Usually I just sit down and say, ‘OK, what am I going through?’ And that the relationship pretty much saved my life really was on the forefront of my mind,” Etheridge said. “When I sat down to write the last verse, I realized, ‘Oh, these are vows, these are wedding vows.’ And then I thought, ‘I’m going to sing this to her at the wedding.’
“And I sang my vows, which was just a really special moment. It’s really something powerful standing three feet in front of someone and singing right to them.”
Etheridge will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor Nov. 16. Tickets range from $39.50 to $99.50.
“I’m so grateful for everyone who buys tickets and comes to see me. The people are excited before I’ve even played a note,” she said. “Once the show gets going and the audience knows the songs when you’re playing, you know, I start ‘Come to My Window’ and everyone’s on their feet, it’s amazing.”