Blast from the past
Lisa Loeb is an American singer-songwriter and is also known for being a producer, actress, author and philanthropist. Loeb was active in music early on in her life, even forming a band in college and attending a session at Berklee College of Music. In 1994 she came onto the public radar rather unexpectedly when her song “Stay (I Missed You)” from the movie Reality Bites, went number one. This made her the first artist to have a platinum single without even having a recording contract. Over the years she’s released many studio albums and plenty of children’s music too. Loeb is starting off 2020 with her newest album, A Simple Trick To Happiness.
Loeb opens the album on the track “Doesn’t It Feel Good” featuring another long-time acoustic pop-pro Michelle Branch. The song feels like dipping back into the late ’90s/early 2000s pop with its gentle acoustics and both artists’ distinct, but calming vocal tones. That classic Loeb sound continues in song “Skeleton,” and is accompanied by her illustrative words like, “if I’m gonna be honest/ you’re not the one to tell/ put it in my pocket/ I’ll keep it to myself,” and, “if we meet as friends again/ can we pretend we were something then/ tell your new friends where we’ve been/ that we’re not just skeletons.” This kind of descriptive wording is a trait that the majority of pop music has lost over the years.
“This Is My Life” is a track that sounds like it was ripped right out of a 2000s romantic comedy or coming-of-age film, with its early ’00s pop twang, yet somehow it has a moody quality and underlying relatability that helps it fit right into the current indie-pop universe. We get a taste of a slightly different pop-side of Loeb on track “Another Day” as it features a piano-based melody versus her usual staple guitar sound, though, her very recognizable voice still shines through in every note.
Soft, acoustic melodies skim a very fine line that can tread into country-crossover territory and in “For the Birch” we get that almost-country sound with its specific emotional tune and storytelling-like lyrics such as, “they almost lost it all/ when the winter came/ she started over/ seasons change,” and, “kick off your Mary Janes and coat and gloves and hang your hat/ it doesn’t matter where/ come sit beside me/ we can talk about it/ wish that I could go back there.”
The album ends on “Wonder,” which lives up to its name with its curious tone and up-lifting piano melody. With such soothing songs, it almost hints to listeners how Loeb is so popular in Children’s music too.
A Simple Trick to Happiness holds on to that Lisa Loeb sound we know and love. It’s just Loeb, her guitar and her classic crooning voice. While it doesn’t sound like some musical evolution on her part, nostalgia makes it a win with its simplicity and familiarity.