In a world that worships the singer/songwriter stylings of Taylor Swift you can't help but pity Michelle Branch who in a lot of ways has always been overlooked by commercial music fanatics.
While an 8 year old Swift was most likely still perfecting her reading and writing skills, Michelle Branch was 14 years old and already writing some amazing songs on her guitar, including 'Goodbye to You', which would become part of her debut release 'The Spirit Room' (released in 2001, while she was still only 18 years old).
I, like a lot of people my age in 2001, discovered her through an appearance on hit TV show 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. Why it has taken me this long to pick up 'Hotel Paper' I'm not sure but it continues in the same style as her debut, in that the music is largely very organic, centred around the acoustic guitar, piano, bass and drums. This genre has been known to be described as 'alternative pop'. At first listen about five of the songs really struck a nerve with me and on each additional listen to the entire album I pick out more things I like about it. Compared to 'Spirit Room' I felt there were a lot less aggressive numbers in the style of 'Everytime' and 'All I Wanted'; a lot more mellow and thought provoking on the whole.
If you're looking to purchase this on the strength of 'Spirit Room', you'd be making a wise decision. If you're new to Michelle Branch, think along the lines of Avril Lavigne without the weird, attention seeking public statements or Natalie Imbruglia with more teen appeal. The album wouldn't look out of place next to Sheryl Crow either, who incidentally appears on a track here.
Long before Taylor Swift was Michelle Branch, and she will always be the original teen singer/songwriter in my eyes.