“Yes I Am”


* * *


If you listen closely enough to Etheridge’s fourth album, you just might hear what she never quite says.

Full of the carefully chosen gender-neutral language and ambiguously worded story lines that marked the singer’s earlier releases, “Yes I Am” nonetheless addresses more directly than she has before the themes that have brought her a wide following among gay women. No lyric is without a non-controversial interpretation--not the least among them the coy title line--but Etheridge also goes out of her way not to foreclose any meaning.

This elliptical frankness invigorates her music as well, even though she has stepped back somewhat from the adventurousness she displayed on her last album, “Never Enough,” on which she delved into psychedelia and honest-to-goodness ballads. “I’m the Only One” and “All American Girl” are pure rock ‘n’ roll--stripped-down and energetic.

In an era when women rockers are often too scarce to constitute their own Grammy category, Etheridge’s hearty singing and exuberant guitar playing make for some easy listening, no matter what her inspiration.


New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).