Skin

Is it possible for an artist to be too candid? Etheridge is about to find out.

Is it possible for an artist to be too candid? Etheridge is about to find out. She has made no bones about Skin detailing the break-up of her very public relationship—and, boy, does it. Little is left to the imagination as the artist lays her soul bare across 10 emotionally challenging, often brutally sad songs. Etheridge deserves props for being so extraordinarily vulnerable, rarely taking the easy way out. In fact, she often delivers the harshest lyrical blows to herself. But here's the hitch: If she's sharing so much about the origin of the album's material, is there any room for listeners to embrace the material with any personal conviction or interpretation? There's no denying that we'd all be reading between the lines of every song, regardless of Etheridge's disclosures. That noted, a little ambiguity still might have made such well-drawn, single-worthy songs as the plaintive ballad "Goodnight" and the tight-fisted rocker "Lover Please" more universal—and, ultimately, more durable.—LF