Right On Records
“Discovered” by Morrissey when she filled in at the last minute for a no-show opener (she ended up finishing the tour with him), Melissa Ferrick has been the major label route (two albums for Atlantic), done her time at a smaller custom label (three on Beyond), and has now pulled an Ani and started her own company. The first studio album for her imprint finds Ferrick backed by a sparse but full sounding band and feisty as ever. An aggressive folkie, Ferrick rips into her acoustic guitar (and occasional trumpet) with the passion and intensity of Melissa Etheridge, playing with a taut rhythmic grip and tearing into lyrics with a tough tongue. He songs generally deal with matters of the heart as can be clearly evidenced by song titles like “One Night Stand,” “I Still Love You,” and “Break Up Song,” as well as the album’s title. Regardless of the topic, Ferrick spits out even her ballads with such clenched teeth passion, it’s impossible not to get swept into her songs. Like other “out” singers, she’s acquired a grassroots, predominantly gay woman audience through constant touring, a topic she explores with requisite zeal in “E-mail.” Although it would benefit from more stylistic diversity — every track is led by an acoustic attack and a bitter-sounding Ferrick exploring the ups and especially downs of love — Valentine Heartache will please fans of the genre as well as anyone who owns an Ani DiFranco album.