It’s been just over 30 years since Melissa Etheridge burst onto the music scene with her platinum-selling self-titled debut album. Along the way she's won two Grammys, an Oscar, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, survived cancer, and become the voice of a social generation spearheading both LGBTQ issues and human rights. In stark contrast to 2016's Stax infused 'Memphis Rock and Soul' her latest album 'The Medicine Show' sees Etheridge return to her heartland roots.

The album opens with title track ‘The Medicine Show’, a gospel chanting rocker before leading us into ‘Wild and Lonely’ and even at this early stage it’s clear that Melissa Etheridge likes to wear her influences on her sleeve with Springsteen being the most prominent. Its strong lyrical content builds into a storming chorus and this anthem theme is continued with ‘Shaking’. It is now that I feel that long-time producer John Shanks has learned a thing or two during his recent time on the road with rousing rockers Bon Jovi.

Of course ‘The Medicine Show' is not without its more delicate moments covering tales of love lost (‘I Know You’), broken dreams (‘Here Comes the Pain’) and seduction (‘Suede’). The latter being a stand out number perfectly suiting Etheridge’s trademark husky vocals. You cannot fault her singing throughout the album which is a honest pleasure in an auto tuned world.

The set closes with ‘Last Hello’ a heartfelt calling to her lost youth and a nice coda to a well-rounded collection. With a style championed by such contemporaries as Sonia Leigh ‘The Medicine Show’ is a good solid effort. The needless pop of ‘This Human Chain’ being the album’s only weak spot.

In this current climate, some may have thought that ‘The Medicine Show’ would be a commentary or affirmation of the current #METOO movement, but it's not. Then again why should it? Melissa Etheridge’s politics are well known, and not mentioning it strengthens her role as a strong independent woman.

‘The Medicine Show’, out April 12th, 2019 via Concord Records and Snakefarm Records in the UK.