By Michelle Lampariello
Ingrid Michaelson’s seventh and latest album, “It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense,” is a beautiful reflection of Michaelson’s recent struggles. After suffering from her own health complications, Michaelson lost both her mother and her dog before her marriage to musician Greg Laswell ended in February 2015. Michaelson channels her pain into the new record by mixing together ideas about moving on, drama and determination.
The first track, “Light Me Up,” was written by Michaelson and a few collaborators only days after the death of Michaelson’s mother. The song is based around the idea of focusing on the present and becoming happy again. Michaelson references her mother in the second verse with the lyrics, “And I want to keep us all alive / And I want to see you with my eyes / But I see you in the fireflies / And how extraordinary is that.”
The theme of adjusting to change is also present in “Light Me Up,” which makes it a great track to start off the album because it highlights not only how Michaelson has changed, but also how her music has changed since her 2014 album, “Lights Out.”
Michaelson’s mother is the subject of the album’s fifth track, “I Remember Her,” as well. Michaelson remembers her mother fondly, and sings about how her mother would “sing me lullabies / Gave me my hazel eyes / And then she’d call me beautiful.” The track is arguably the saddest song on the album, despite the influence of grief in every track. By the end of the album, the listener is left with the sense that Michaelson is empowered and independent following her divorce, but there is no silver lining after Michaelson lost her mother.
The sixth track, “Drink You Gone,” references Michaelson’s recent divorce. The line “How do broken hearts get strong?” is repeated throughout the slow, emotional track as Michaelson discusses how difficult it can be to move on from a broken relationship. “Drink You Gone” leaves the listener with the impression that Michaelson is still grieving over her divorce.
However, the following track and also the album’s lead single, “Hell No,” suggests that Michaelson is not grieving at all. Lyrics such as “Am I gonna miss you / Hell no! / Baby watch me up and go” show an empowered Michaelson navigating through her struggles with her head held high. She acknowledges that sometimes her journey is hard with lyrics like “In my bed / Late at night / Thinking of how you held me tight / Will I be lonely when I wake? / Did we make a big mistake?” then she restates her mantra, “Hell no! / Baby watch me up and go.”
Michaelson also references her mother numerous times in the track with the lyrics, “Mama said that boys like you / Never work out anyway.” “Hell No” proves that Michaelson is capable of channeling her grief for both her mother and ex-husband into her music, and even further into an ironically upbeat, catchy song that puts the listener into Michaelson’s spunky mindset.
“It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense” is proof that tortured artists often produce the best work. Despite the recent struggles Michaelson has faced, she still manages to balance the album with both upbeat and slower, more emotional tracks. Michaelson’s “Hell No Tour” kicks off on Thursday, Oct. 6, and fans will certainly say “hell yes” to a chance to hear “It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense” live.