This album’s dramatic opening track, “Kansas City,” finds Melissa Etheridge recalling a youthful journey to freedom fueled by “Lucky Charms and Tic Tacs and Mom’s amphetamines” in her “old man’s Delta 88.” Such autobiographical musing deepens Etheridge’s 12th disc, which also expands her sonic palette. She plays all the guitars, a first, and producers Jacquire King (Kings of Leon) and Steve Booker (Duffy) deftly curb her over-the-top tendencies. “Be Real” is spare and funky, “Enough Rain” raw and folky. The restraint serves her well. She’s realized that sometimes holding a little back can make what’s there hit with all the more force.
Listen to ‘4th Street Feeling’: