Melissa Etheridge doesn’t deal in subtlety. For much of her career—especially in the mid ’90s—her lack of subtlety was a practical revolution; both social and sonic.
The sex, steam and unquenchable desire for bigger than life rock made a string of the trailblazer’s singles anthems for the times. “I Want to Come Over,” “The Only One” and “Your Little Secret” are powerfully dramatic (even if, at times, overly so) paeans that simply were provocative, and even inspirational. No need to spell anything out to the listener—it was all there, once one wiped the sweat from their brow.
With her latest single, “The Wanting of You,” (from her latest album, Fearless Love), Etheridge replaces the primal guitars for tasteful piano, while opting for lyrical content that is more Lifetime movie-style hammer to the head than a lustful plea for a need to be mercifully indulged by a forbidden lover, dangling just out of reach.
Sure, the plight of a woman painfully dreaming that one day, her true, sexual identity will be fulfilled sounds like a noble plot. But, when all we are given are tales of how the protagonist loves her husband, but really loves sex with beautiful women while out of town, it’s hard to feel as though the subject matter deserves the sympathy that the chorus begs, in ever so melodramatic fashion, with lyrics like, “She looks up to heaven/And wonders why love is so cruel.”
There was a time when Etheridge’s yearning was the stuff of dreams. That was then, however. There is a big difference between the innate, creative inspiration of her own, initial years of liberation and simply being told now that, by the way, this new tune is supposed to be inspirational.