Something Else! sneak peek: Melissa Etheridge, "Falling Up" (2012)

In this uncertain era, we need people to frame the issues as much as we need life-affirming voices to lift us from the doldrums. Enter Melissa Etheridge, with a new song that finds hope, and humor, in the hard times.

Opening with a blue-ridge beat and a ringing guitar, the track quickly settles into this reflective, but unbent verse — “my heart’s a little heavy, but the rest of me is [after a perfectly modulated pause] fine” — before leaping end over end into a sunburst of loose-limbed optimism inside the chorus: “I am fancy free, and I’m falling … that’s right! I’m falling up now!” Etheridge, in full cry now, is encouraging us to use today’s experiences, no matter how difficult, to construct a better tomorrow — and that starts with our attitudes.

She matches that inspirational atmosphere with a series of plucky notes on an oddity of Americana called the banjitar — which sounds as much fun as it is. By the time Etheridge starts yelping some improvised lines at the end (the best of them: “Shake it like a Polaroid!”), the song has become a raucous, unbridled, contagiously joyous hootenanny.

So yeah, I shook it like a Polaroid. Thanks, Melissa, for that.

“Falling Up” is the lead single from the 12-song ’4th Street Feeling,’ the follow up to 2010’s ‘Fearless Love.’ Melissa Etheridge’s 12th studio album was produced by Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Norah Jones) and Steve Booker (Duffy), and is due September 4, 2012.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.