I Am Me is a solid pop/rock album. It doesn't rise to classic status, but it is far from a flop and should go far to re-establish Ashlee Simpson as a legitimate artist. However, with its downbeat mood, it could get lost in the avalanche of flashier releases as Christmas approaches.
The biggest strength of I Am Me is the songwriting. There isn't a bad song here. The rock guitar crunch of current single "Boyfriend" is good, but dig deeper for the real pleasures. Ashlee's Gwen Stefani-style shout-out to her girls on "L.O.V.E." is great pop fun, and the title song "I Am Me" is convincing when she sings "I am me, and I won't change for anyone." "In Another Life" successfully wraps a warm vocal hook around a classic rock arrangement.
- In Another Life
- I Am Me
Interpretive Power and Maturity Needed
The weakest point of the album is Simpson's "paint-by-numbers" vocal delivery. Her husky voice is a pleasing instrument, but frequently sounds too restrained to generate a true emotional response. With more maturity, it is likely that Ashlee Simpson's interpretive powers will develop. With the impact of more years she may deliver an effective song like "Catch Me When I Fall" with arresting power. For now it took frequently sounds like she's just having a down day.
I Am Me is an album worth hearing. Ashlee Simpson has put together strong basic pop/rock songs with the assistance of co-songwriters Kara Dioguardi (writer of hits for Kylie Minogue, Hilary Duff and many others) and John Shanks. Shanks, a veteran of Simpson's Autobiography album and last year's Grammy Award winner for Producer of the Year, also serves here in the production role. It's an all-around solid second effort.