Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Melissa Etheridge 

Skin (Island)

The breaking-up-is-hard-to-do theme has scattered its hoary sentimentality across decades of music. Girl meets boy, boy digs girl, girl dumps boy (and vice versa) -- it's been a tenet of pop music since time began. So it was only a matter of time, one would suppose, until the theme was blatantly put to test with regard to a same-sex relationship. Somewhat predictably, it's Melissa Etheridge who has given us the first high-profile girl-loses-girl record. Such fare could easily wind up grossly maudlin in other hands, but to her credit, Etheridge, who has the pure sort of rock-and-roll heart that would never allow syrup to gum up a melody, remains steadfast in her treatment of matters of the heart. She refuses to allow these songs to get swamped in the pathetic, mawkish pettiness that can accompany a lost lover's spite.

Skin, then, is an earnest autobiography, done well in terms of its lyrical approach to the apparently cathartic dissolution of Etheridge's well-publicized relationship. She treats the breakup blues with a refined maturity and generally leaves the soul-cleansing to a handful of less-than-rancorous cuts. Sometimes, entirely approachable songs get muddled under soft-rock production that features such un-Etheridge touches as drum machines, loops, samples, and ethereal background vocals. At one point, she even goes completely overboard on the upbeat "I Wanna Be in Love." What's been pushed as a serious breakup record sounds more like she's found someone new than lost someone she loved. Strangely enough, Skin ultimately comes across as a great big, weird smile.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Kurt Hernon

Read the Digital Print Issue

November 17, 2021

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • The Temptations and the Four Tops @ MGM Northfield Park

    • Sun., Nov. 28
  • Songs of the Polka King Release Party with Joey Miskulin & the KTB @ Beachland Ballroom

    • Sun., Nov. 28
  • Jokes on You @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Last Sunday of every month

© 2021 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation