Growing Up Is Hard To Do
Ashlee Simpson may have released Autobiography a little early. While many of the songs are catchy, too many show a lack of expression. Simpson’s best work comes when she speaks frankly and in her own voice. She avoids sappy, love sick pop but does indulge in a punkier version that remains poppy enough for mainstream audiences.The songs that do show insight from the young singer are also the stronger musically styled cuts, such as “Surrender” and “Love Me for Me.” The former is an up-tempo reflection on a past relationship, while the latter is not exactly a soaring love anthem, but nevertheless will resonate with many young women. Most of the tunes show a good use of standard background rock. There is no creative competition on any tracks, which are all meant to showcase Simpson’s voice.
The songs off Autobiography that fall flat do so because of stale lyrics which only serve as album filler. “Mother Sister Father Sister Mother/Everything’s cool now” is repeated in “Shadow,” Simpson’s tale of her amplified growing pains as the younger sister of a pseudo-celebrity.
Yet even some of the songs that seem trite on the first play, such as the title track, shine upon subsequent listens. The only explanation is southern charm; Simpson’s simple yet honest lyrics literally ask the listener to take her for what she is. Sure that’s sometimes a contrived pop star, but as Simpson says about herself, “Nobody’s really seen my million subtleties.” If she would open up about more of these personal nuances she would deliver more of a sense about who she is, not just who she doesn’t want to be.