Jump Roping in Chains
'Iowa's Emerging Butterfly Of Song' by Clay Riness, Tapestry Magazine, February 2006 The great state of Iowa, which is the back drop for this essay, has a new member in it's musical family, singer / songwriter Michelle Lynn. Born and raised the youngest of three on a farm near Monona, Iowa, she looks every bit the heartland farm girl, fresh-faced and beautiful, with long, dark Irish curls and a smile that could melt down the entire football team at Mar-Mac High School, and probably did. But she couldn't have been too typical a kid, because there is very little child in her writing. Michelle's story is a rather remarkable one and it begins with the fact that she is just nineteen years of age and has only been playing guitar for a couple of years. Yet, she has created a debut CD entitled Jump Roping In Chains which gives us a serious look into who she is. It is a fearless collection of songs that strips away any pretension and hangs her deepest feelings out like laundry for the world to see. The album is quite sparsely produced, which seems appropriate for such personal writing, and helps listeners to appreciate the lyrical weight of the songs. Her singing style is folksy but contemporary, rather like Ani DiFranco in some respects. But what really makes the Michelle Lynn story worth noting is the interesting style in her writing. She claims some of the best influences in music...Dylan, Neil Young, Gillian Welch, Bob Marley. Yet, her songs are like none of these stellar word smiths. Thoreau once wrote: 'If man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears.' Michelle has taken in the messages from her favorite artists, but rather than copy them, has stepped to the music which she hears. Henry would be proud. She is an inward thinker with a knack for odd structure. Often her words come and go quickly, as fleeting as the thoughts she confesses. For a writer of nineteen with so little life experience, her lyrics contain weighty statements. One won't find songs of puppy love or catchy pop rewrites rolling off the pen of Michelle Lynn. She writes without fear about whatever motivates her. Some of her songs almost have a James Joyce, stream of consciousness quality. Others are quite profound and to the point. In sum, Iowa can indeed be proud of Michelle Lynn, and we can all enjoy watching her future unfold as an ever-evolving singer and songwriter. Watching from a distance with a sturdy binocular, we should resolve to keep our eyes trained on what is clearly Iowa's newest emerging butterfly of song, because nothing is as wondrous and beautiful as a butterfly, and one day, she may spread her wings a fly away from us on a greater journey.