Written By: Mandi Lauren Nowitz
“MEmphis Rock and Soul” is the latest release by rocker Melissa Etheridge and it is pretty darn good. Her second album off of her own label ME Records/Etheridge, was released in the fall of 2016 and it brings back all the sixties soul, blues and rock that perfectly suits a voice such as hers. With a twist on Memphis, using her initials ME in bold, Etheridge is making it clear that, though this may be a cover album, it has her name written all over it. With songs written by B.B. King, Isaac Hayes and Otis Redding, the Grammy winner focused solely on Stax artists, as she shared with NPR’s Scott Simon.
So, what made her take this route (Melissa also recorded the album in its namesake) as opposed to doing a new take on “Come To My Window,” one of her most well-known singles? And why go to Memphis as opposed to say New York or LA? Etheridge had this to say: “I have such a love, such as sweet love for Memphis. I grew up in Kansas, but when I knew I was going to do this album, when I knew I was going to dive into the Stax vault, I knew I wanted to go down to Memphis ’cause the location, Memphis, was such an important part. I believe Memphis is the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll. It was where all those musicians and everybody met – right there. It’s where Elvis was inspired.” That’s reason enough for me to want to record in the heartland of all that is great when it comes to music, the complete embodiment.
Here are the top three must hears off of “MEmphis Rock and Soul” that only prove Etheridge has done it again, maybe even better than before!
1) Hold On, I’m Coming: this is such an amazing rendition of a classic and it makes you want to go perform in a gospel choir or take a trip to Nashville or New Orleans…or hey, how about Memphis?
2) I Forgot to Be Your Lover: I love this song because it is so true; we do forget our loved ones when we are consumed with the other things in our lives, i.e. school, work, miscellaneous drama that can break a relationship into bits. And Etheridge legitimately sounds like she is sorry so maybe this is an apology to lovers she has scorned (Tammy Lynn Michaels)?
3) Born Under A Bad Sign: Classic blues and jazz with Etheridge’s own infusion of rasp makes this one of the most impactful songs off of the album. There is true pain within her voice and it pulls at every string in your heart and soul.
I definitely suggest that you take a listen to this album, whether you are an Etheridge fan or not because there is so much meat to each and every song. Melissa Etheridge does what she does best; pours her all into another great and probably underrated album. Pick it up now! So worth it!