39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2003
An incredible follow up to a great debut, Hotel Paper is not only one of the best albums of the year, it will also be the album we look back at in 20 years as the one that established Michelle Branch as one of the best singer-songwriters of her generation. There, I said it...
It's stronger in every way than "The Spirit Room", especially vocally. Michelle has moved beyond her (endearing) vocal ticks of her first album, and is a MUCH more confident performer.
There are numerous songs that should get heavy rotation, including the duet with Sheryl Crow (though not my favorite on the album).
She's already been shown the respect she deserves when chosen to sing on the breezy "The Game Of Love", so the industry will definitely be behind her for years to come.
I could definitely imagine hanging out with her if she went to college when I did. She's a very down to earth, girl next door, and a lot of people can relate to her, from multiple generations -- another reason why she will definitely be popular for a very long time.
I just have to have a track by track review for this one:
1) "Intro" - not gonna rate it. It just serves as a bookend theme.
2) "Are You Happy Now" (10) - great first single, and great video to go along with it. It's quite apparent that she strongly feels what she's singing.
3) "Find Your Way Back" (10) - could definitely be a single, but probably won't be, because there is just so much to choose from, and several other songs are a bit more unique. Breezy, and most like the material from her debut.
4) "Empty Handed" (8) - Surprisingly addictive. Doesn't seem like it would draw you in at first, but just does.
5) "Tuesday Morning" (10) - Gives me the chills. A great pop song. Definitely deserves to be a single; most likely the third or fourth from the album. If so, it's one of those songs that you can never tire of, no matter how much they overplay it (similar to how "All You Wanted" sticks to you and never lets go).
6) "One Of These Days" (8) - The piano song. This one is different from the rest of the album. It's very sweet, and my daughter's favorite. It's basically four chords, but sometimes that's all you need.
7) "Love Me Like That" (8) - Sort of country at times, reminds me a bit of Fleetwood Mac at times (maybe there's a Sheryl Crow / Fleetwood Mac connection there). Don't let the very different feel throw you off -- it wraps a great chorus. Breezy, in the spirit of "The Game Of Love", and could definitely be a late summer single.
8) "Desperately" (7) - Decent song, but maybe my least favorite from the album. For some reason, many people list this as one of their favorites. Not very special, IMO.
9) "Breath" (10) - Great, great song. One of those I have to repeat play when playing the CD. This should definitely be the second or third single. Too bad the recording was tuned about a half a pitch off. I have to retune my guitar just to play along. Maybe my favorite from the album, but I have trouble deciding.
10) "Where Are You Now" (8) - Another one of those songs that start slowly, but works its way into your blood.
11) "Hotel Paper" (8) - Title track that will never get airplay. It's different from most of the album, and quite introspective. Really nice, with a swelling chorus.
12) "'Til I Get Over You" (10) - A very special song which really shows Michelle's maturing vocals. I would love to hear this played on the radio, but I seriously doubt it will ever get there.
13) "It's You" (8) - Pretty album closer, with the other theme bookend tacked onto the end.
This is a great album, and I highly recommend it! It's very rare for there to be five "10"s on an album. And when she wins a Grammy for this, this time around I'm sure she won't forget to thank her parents ;-)
26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2003
Personally, I thought that Michelle's first album "The Spirit Room" would be so hard to top. Since I got the cd, I've been listeneing to it nonstop. However, Michelle's second cd, "Hotel Paper" topped "The Spirit Room" by about 10 times. Her first single "Are You Happy Now?" is only a small taste of what she can do musically. Michelle is an amazing songwriter, as well as a great guitarist. Her voice is fresh and original, and it shows in her lyrics and her voice that she is truly singing from her heart. Her lyrics relate to real-life situations, typically for teenagers going through break ups or heartaches. The tracks on this album range from poppy to almost jazzy. Each is original and new, bringing style and class to her music.
"Love Me Like That" with Sheryl Crow is probably my personal favorite track on the album, mostly because it is one of the more upbeat songs. Michelle's voice blends seamlessly with Sheryl's, and Sheryl Crow's voice fits the song perfectly. I would definitely like to hear another collaboration with the 2 of them in the future. I am very impressed with this song.
"Desperately," my second favorite, starts slow but picks up as the song goes on. When I first heard this song, I decided I didnt like it, but it surprisingly grew on me.
"It's You" is Michelle's version of a slow ballad. It's beautiful, and has a quality that sets it apart from the rest of the tracks. The only complaint I have is that I wish this song was longer.
"Empty Handed" would be the song that I would pick to be her next single. It's powerful lyrics remind me of someone leaving from a breakup, and not looking back at how it was "supposed to be."
I also love the guitar on "Tuesday Morning." It is a beautiful and sweet song.
If you are into strong women who write their own songs, buy this album! I know that I was very impressed. Its true that you must not like music very much if you dont like Michelle Branch's "Hotel Room."
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2003
I admit, when I first bought this album, I didn't know what to expect. After listening to all of it, it look some time to get used to the "new" sound, as this album is not as happy, poppy, and bright as her debut, The Spirit Room. Eventually all the songs grew on me in a big way. At first it seems like all the songs "sound alike" but it's that way with all new albums. The album requires multiple listenings for each song to come into its own. My favorites on this CD are pretty much all the songs. The one song that took the longest to grow on me is "Til I Get Over You." The French backing vocals weirded me out for awhile until I got used to them. I like this album so much that I have two copies: The American release and the import with the 2 extra tracks (Everywhere, Game of Love). I'm really impressed with her songwriting on this album. Seven of the album's 12 tracks were written solo by Michelle. The others had co-writers. She's a refreshing artist out there today who DOESN'T sell her body, but her music instead. I'm forever a fan of Michelle Branch, and look forward to her third album, whenever it may come out.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2003
I know some people are saying how "The Spirit Room" was better than "Hotel Paper", so I'd thought I'd get the CD to see for myself. I haven't listened to the whole thing yet, but the tracks I've listened to so far are great. (Tuesday Morning, Are You Happy Now, Find Your Way Back, Desperately, 'Til I Get Over You, One of These Days) The intro (which I found annoying at first) is even a bit interesting. You've got to remember that for the first album, Michelle Branch wrote the songs when she was about 14-16. She's changed since then and "Hotel Paper" shows. The tracks are not as "acoustic" as they were on "The Spirit Room" but they are still great. I'm listening to the CD as I write the review, so I'd listened to the whole thing by the time I'm done. This is the third album from Michelle Branch (counting her independent album "Broken Bracelet")
1.) Intro (2/5) - I can't really give the intro a 5 because it's not a song. It has an antiquey (is that a word?) feel to it. It's ok I guess.
2.) Are You Happy Now (4.5/5) - This song is pretty great, they did a good job by choosing this as the first single. She's a little rocking out on this song. There's electric guitars in it and I haven't really heard a Michelle Branch song with them in it since "Paper Pieces" (Broken Bracelet). "do you really have everything you want? you can't ever give something you ain't got."
3.) Find Your Way Back (4.5/5) - This is a potential next single. It's pretty catchy. That's all I have to say. "i used to get away with so much. now i can't get away. i even thought it was simple."
4.) Empty Handed (5/5) - Great song, I absolutely love the lyrics and the chords of the acoustic guitar. "i'm packing my bags because i don't wanna be the only one who's drowning in their misery."
5.) Tuesday Morning (5/5) - I love this song, I hope that it's the next single. "i remember stormy weather. the way the sky looks when it's cold.."
6.) One of These Days (4.5/5) - I actually forgot how this song sounds, lol. I liked it when I heard it but I can't remember it. Oh well, it should be ok. "i didn't notice but i didn't care. i tried being honest but that lead me nowhere."
7.) Love Me Like That (3/5)- Not really my style. It sounds too country. "how can you turn and walk away pretending everything's okay. how can you turn your back?"
8.) Desperately (5/5) - It's very catchy. I like it. I like the backing vocals that Jessica Harp does, even though it sounds like Michelle Branch a little bit. "oh why can't i ignore it? i keep giving in but i should know better."
9.) Breathe (4.5/5) - It's very poppy and catchy. This one I kinda like. It's interesting. "well it's all so overrated. in not saying how you feel. so you end up watching chances fade."
10.) Where Are You Now? (3/5) - This song is too poppy for me. "i'm trying to get by with never knowing at all. what is the chance of finding you out there."
11.) Hotel Paper (4.5/5) - This is a nice song. I love the guitars in it. "you turned out to be more than i bargained for and i can tell that you need to get away."
12.) 'Til I Get Over You (4/5) - It reminds me alot of some other song I heard before (I don't know what song) and this song called "I'd Rather Be In Love" off of "Broken Bracelet". "you got me like a loaded gun. golden sun and sky so blue."
13.) It's You (6/5) - I like this song so much. It's soft spoken lyrics are great. I love the guitar in it. Michelle did such a great job on it that I had to give it 6 out of 5. "if tomorrow never comes, i would want just one wish to kiss your quiet mouth."
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2003
As my title suggests, this CD has remained in my stereo since the day I bought it. Its a great CD for many reasons. Firstly, I can respect Michelle Branch as a musician and as a person. She not only writes all her songs and plays the guitar, but she's a nice person. She's one of my favorite artists.
But this is also an amazing album. Every song is well written and recorded and nice to listen to. This CD is perfect for an early morning, an afternoon or a nighttime listen. This is one of the reasons its great. Its ALWAYS a great listen.
Are You Happy Now?: A
Finding My Way Back: B+
Empty Handed: A
Tuesday Morning: A+
One of these Days: A+
Love Me Like That: A+
Where Are You Now?: A++
Hotel Paper: A+
Til I Get Over You: A++++
Its You: A
But this CD! You won't be disappointed!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2003
When Michelle Branch, the multi-talented teenage artist first came out to the world of showbiz with her debut studio hit "Everywhere", many people were impressed. A young girl, writing and playing her own music, breaking the Britney mold and opening doors for artists like Avril Lavigne, Vanessa Carlton and Ludy Woodward. The songs on her first studio album, "The Spirit Room", were cheery and sweet. Even those semi-painful teenage-spirited lines were delivered while surrounded in a special, full of beat melody. Somehow, even those sentences ended well.
Michelle had changed. Speding lonely nights on the road, writing on those paper pads on hotel rooms (which inspired the title of her album, "Hotel Paper"), going through her first real relationship and suffering from her first heartbreak. Besides of her better vocal abilities, the texts on her new album are deeper, bittersweet and touching. Opening with the angsty "Are You Happy Now?", moving to the sweet "Find My Way Back", which hugs some bitter words, such as 'You told me everything I wanted to hear, and you sold me, now I don't know how I should feel'. She keeps going with "Empty Handed", singing about somehow running away from her own misery. "Tuesday Morning" introduces us to the in love but frightened teen that Branch was, going through those small sweet moments after the so-called 'storm', emotional and real. "One of These Days" takes off after it, making it seem like an ironic 'What if?' song, longing for her lover's touch but afraid of actually having it. Her duet with Sheryl Crow, "Love Me Like That", takes a different turn in the musical meaning of it. A sweet title to back up bitter lyrics and a great mix of two fantastic voices. "Desperately", featuring newcomer Jessica Harp, is also different as it offers a different instrumental sound, and again, great voices, as it describes one's longing for one she had lost or gave up. "Breathe" is one of the cheeriest songs on the album, offering some sweet lines like 'You'll see everything is alright
If I just breathe' to make up for the despaired lyrics. "Where Are You Now?", my least favorite on this album, is searching for someone to call a lover while living Michelle's crazy rock-star life.
"Hotel Paper", the main tune on this album, is a beautiful take on Michelle's drifting thoughts while writing about her failed relationship, having to deal with her someone's someone and taking it all out... on hotel paper. "'Til I Get Over You", my personal favorite, describes Michelle's feelings after the break up, entwining French text in her beautiful lyrics, which streams well in the actual language or translated ('Everytime you go away, I pretend that I'm okay'). It's touching in ways I can't describe. "It's You" closes the album perfectly, as it's deep and painful, quiet and piercing, dwelling with the thought of no tomorrow, just wanting to be with her love.
Making you feel everything she has been through and occasionally making you shed a tear or cringe, Michelle Branch had changed.
And for the better.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2003
I never bought Michelle Branch's first cd...I really enjoyed all of the songs she released, but they were all (with the exception of Goodbye to You) too bubble-gummy sweet. After I heard Are You Happy Now? on the radio, I knew Michelle's new cd would be different. The music definitely had more of an "edge" to it, and her lyrics had really grown up. After buying this cd, I can say say that I am very pleasantly surprised. The cd is everything Are You Happy Now? promised it would be...the whole thing is a goldmine, a true modern classic.
Are You Happy Now?--The first single, and a great kick-start for the rest of the album...
Find Your Way Back--"I used to get away with so much, now I can't get away..." A "pop" song, but with incredibly deep and meaningful lyrics.
Empty Handed--starts out with an acoustic guitar, and builds to a powerful song with a string orchestra...almost has a slight country feel with a great edge.
Tuesday Morning--An absolute gem. I nearly cried when I listened to this for the first time...poetry. A grown-up Goodbye to You.
One of These Days--A pretty song with a piano and keyboards...full of questions to herself.
Love Me Like That--Great guitar (sounds like Nickelcreek). A rock/country song with Sheryl Crow.
Desperately--A lazy, acoustic feel with a definite attitude. A great little song.
Breathe--One of the best songs on the entire album...and the whole album is so good! LOVE the chorus. A true pop song, but with that special Michelle touch. I adore the lyrics. "So I whisper in the dark, hoping you'll hear me...do you hear me? Everything is allright if I just breathe..."
Where Are You Now?--A wonderful song for anyone who is still looking for their special someone..."It's easier for me to be alone, but there's still a piece of me that feels so empty. I've been all over the world, I've seen a million different places...but through the crowds and all the faces, I'm still out there looking for you. Where are you now? I'm trying to get by with never knowing at all..."
Hotel Paper--The title track, and a wonderful song...improves upon multiple listens...very meaningful lyrics.
'Til I get Over You--An incredibly beautiful song, made very unique by the French lyrics in the chorus...incredible song.
It's You--A lovely little acoustic song, about what she would do if tomorrow never comes...beautiful song about being in love..."the light changes when your in the room..."
Well, I hope this gave a good overview of an exquisite cd...congratulations to Michelle, for not only avoiding a sophomore slump, but creating a masterpiece of emotions...
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2003
This is not the album you'll reach for when you're in the mood for some cheery music. But if you've ever had relationship troubles, and have looked for that perfect "break-up" album, "Hotel Paper" is just the ticket.
Like others have said, you have to listen to this one a few times before you really appreciate it. This album is not happy and bouncy like "The Spirit Room" -- it's more mellow, and the songs are more about relationship troubles or breaking up. But the lyrics are richer, the melodies are sweeter, and the tracks flow together perfectly. The first single, "Are You Happy Now," is Michelle's first "in-your-face" type song, and she pulls it off well. Her lyrics on "Breathe" and "Find My Way Back" will seem familiar to anybody who has been in a serious relationship, and the title track "Hotel Paper" is genius, in my opinion. Her song "One Of These Days" was written in 10 minutes, and it's great, but I wish she spent an additional five minutes on the words. They just lack the punch that the melody delivers.
I purchased this album, expecting "The Spirit Room, Part II." What I got instead was a beautiful, sad-but-sweet collection of Michelle Branch's finest work yet.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2003
"Hotel Paper" isn't an absolute departure from her last album "The Spirit Room" in a sense that it's still "pop" of some sorts, but it's obviously more organic and rock tinged. By listening to her lyrics it's definitely apparent that she's grown both as an artist and as a person. The songs are much more personal than the songs on "TSR" were (though, not to take anything away from "TSR"). In my opinion, the production on the album is superb. It's a very good album, showing she's grown creatively, vocally, and that her writing has improved immensely.
01. "Intro" - The vintage movie style music adds to the assumption that she intended the album to be an imageless film, if you will.
02. "Are You Happy Now?" - Great song, it shows us a different side of her, lyrically. I like the production on this track, and with Dave Navarro on the guitar how could you go wrong? [5/5]
03. "Find Your Way Back" - Nice song, catchy. [4/5]
04. "Empty Handed" - VERY good song, I love the strings on this track; her voice is great on this one as well. [5/5]
05. "Tuesday Morning" - Beautiful song, very emotional... and oh so catchy. [5/5]
06. "One Of These Days" - Beautiful Song, but the percussion seems out of place. They should have kept it purely acoustic with only a piano backing her voice. It's still incredible, though. [4/5]
07. "Love Me Like That (With Sheryl Crow)" - Great song, nice lyrics, good tune, perfect guitar playing. Sheryl's voice compliments this song SO well. [4/5]
08. "Desperately" - GREAT song! One of my favorites on the album! I think the production is perfect on this track. Some say it's over-produced, but I think it's perfect for the type of song that it is. Jessica Harp's voice compliments the song very nicely, as well. Love it! [5/5]
09. "Breathe" - EXTREMELY catchy song. This will probably be her next single, even though Michelle has said herself that it's too "pop" for her taste as a single. It's very good, though. [4/5]
10. "Where Are You Now" - This song seems very autobiographical about her search for that perfect someone while being in the "spotlight" all the time. It's a great song, nice lyrics. I could definitely see this as a single. [4/5]
11. "Hotel Paper" - The title track. Very nice song, great lyrics! Her voice is outstanding on this track, very emotionally charged. [5/5]
12. "'Til I Get Over You" - This is my favorite song on the entire album. It's SO well written, the French lyrics give it an extra something special. I personally think this is the best song she's put out thus far. It sounds like it has a Beatles-esque vibe to it as well... to me at least. [5/5]
13. "It's You" - Beautiful song. It's very short though, at only 2 minutes and 27 seconds. The rest of the song (about 45 seconds) is the vintage music once again, concluding the "film" I assume. Very creative! [5/5]
There are also great enhanced features on the CD, including a photo gallery, and 6 video's- three are of her in the studio talking about recording certain tracks, and three other live performances from her AOL sessions.
All together, this is an incredible album! I think we'll be seeing much more of Michelle Branch in the future, she's very talented!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2003
She alone could redeem the integrity of a waning pop music industry. Her music is reminiscent of a bygone era that was driven by true musicians. She's the answer to all those current non-musician "entertainers" who must rely on bawdy looks, outrageous attitudes and trends to promote their CD. Do your hard earned money some justice...buy the CD. This is not the kind of CD that has one hit song and 12 dead song fillers. All thirteen of her songs in this CD are real hits. Superb, thanks Michelle for you generosity and incredible talent...it's the one sure sign that lets us know how dedicated you are to your fans.