A thoroughly entertaining set mixing energetic dance-pop numbers with ponderous adult contemporary ballads, Show Off stands out for two reasons: one, Lori Ruso's simultaneously rockin' and gorgeous vocals; two, solid arrangements that don't strictly adhere to normal protocol of late-'80s/early-'90s Top 40 material. True, the melodies have "1989" written all through them - in fact, many seem like they would fit perfectly into silver screen flicks of the time. But Ruso has a classically tinted belting style that gives each tune a distinctive stamp, and she is consistently in tandem with the equally vibrant backing musicians.
On December 12, 2014, at the historic Orpheum Theater in downtown Los Angeles, Melissa Etheridge played the final night of her national This Is M.E. tour. The show featured Melissa and her band in top form, performing new songs from her thirteenth studio album This Is M.E. such as "Take My Number ", and "A Little Bit of Me ", as well as classic hits including "Come To My Window ", "I'm The Only One ", and "Like The Way I Do ",. This set features two songs which were performed exclusively at this tour stop ("Chrome Plated Heart ", and "Ruins "), and features special guests Delta Rae.
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This was one of the most stunning debut albums of the 1980s. Given the domination of synthesizer pop on the radio, Melissa Etheridge was a breath of fresh air when she burst out of the gate with this roots rock album sung with a sensitive bravado often compared to Janis Joplin. Although the passionate vocal deliveries are similar, the comparisons end there: Etheridge is a Midwesterner who was clearly influenced by classic rock artists such as Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar Mellencamp. The main theme explored is the emotional complexity of relationships, and throughout the album she sings about the hunger for affection, the pain of unrequited love, and the fire of obsessive romance. While the limited scope of the songwriting requires the listener to enter her world and exorcise the demons of relationships past, the album is full of infectious, up-tempo songs that propel the album forward. Etheridge's true talent, however, is reconciling uncontrollable emotions such as jealousy with a strong and fiercely independent spirit ("Similar Features," "Like the Way I Do"). Perhaps that's why Etheridge became a role model for a generation of young women who found her to be an uncompromising artist unafraid to expose (and celebrate) her strengths and weaknesses. This is a fine introduction to Melissa Etheridge, and it is one of her most enjoyable albums.