Album Review: Ashlee Simpson, “Autobiography” (2004)

When Ashlee Simpson hopped onto the music scene in early 2004, most people just dismissed her as Jessica Simpson’s little sister. Ashlee, of course hated being in her older sister’s shadow, so with her debut release, Autobiography, she tries as hard as she can to be anti-Jessica. The songs on the album are edgy and filled with guitar riffs- the exact opposite of Jessica’s pop hooks and R&B beats. Her songs are angst-ridden and about love gone wrong- again, completely different from Jessica’s previous albums.

Even though Ashlee seems to be trying so hard not to be like her sister, the result of Autobiography is much like a Jessica Simpson album- a few good songs that are worth listening to, and that’s about it.

I really like the title track, Autobiography, actually. It starts off very slow and mellow, with Simpson’s trademark, raspy voice. By the chorus, the guitar kicks and in the tempo picks up, and you can’t help but dance along to the music. Lyrically, the song is about how Simpson is misjudged (“Younger sister complex” coming in again?). Most teens could relate to this song- its rebellious and in your face, and all in all, really fun to sing along with.

Pieces Of Me
was the first single. This song is a bit more poppy than the others on the album. It’s got a catchy beat, and pretty much everyone has caught themselves singing along to this song (Don’t lie- you know you have before too!). Simpson co-wrote this song about her boyfriend at the time (and singer) Ryan Cabrera. The song is sweet and fluffy, all about being head over heels in love with someone. It’s a cute track, and a great choice for the first single. Simpson gets deep the song that follows, Shadow. She also co-wrote the track, and it’s obviously about how hard it was to deal with being in Jessica’s shadow as she grew up. Surprisingly, this song is maturely written, and you actually end up feeling kinda bad for Simpson when listening to it (even though she says in the chorus, “Don’t feel sorry for me”). In one sense, you see that Simpson has gotten over the problems she had with her family in the past and is moving on. But there is a hint of vulnerability in the song that also shows Simpson is still feeling a bit of pain from all that happened. I guess she might feel a bit better now knowing that her debut album was more successful and debuted higher than Jessica’s debut.

So, I love Lala! The beat automatically drags you in and makes you want to jump around and dance as soon as the song starts. This song is very high in energy and fun, and sure, the lyrics don’t make much sense (I think this song is about feeling good in a relationship), but it’s all about the sound here. I have no idea what “la la” means, and why Simpson wants to do it, but whatever- this song is super fun and the perfect song for a night out on the town. Better Off starts off with some light strumming in the beginning and sets a soft, light, mood. This is a sweet song, about how everything always seems great when you’re in love. The lyrics are cute (“And my hair’s a mess even when it’s straight/But so what/I’m better off everyday/When I’m standing in the pouring rain/I don’t mind/I think of you and everything’s alright”). This is one of the more likeable songs on the album.

The rest of the album falls into the realm of mediocrity. Love Makes The World Go Round is pretty blah. This song isn’t as good as the ones before it, and it’s truly a bit boring. It starts off really soft and mellow, and kicks up a bit during the chorus, but the song still falls flat. Lyrically, it’s just as boring, as Simpson sings about being the hurt victim in a relationship gone bad. I like the opening music to Surrender, and that’s about all I like. This song is somewhat boring, and even though the chorus spices it up a bit, I can’t really bother to listen to the rest. Simpson’s voice starts to sound really nasally in this song too, and I don’t find myself enjoying her singing at this point. Unreachable is filler that is superbly boring and a waste of time. Again, the chorus is okay, but it’s not enough to make you want to listen to the rest of the song. Giving It All Away is a song I actually like, despite it not being too unique. It’s about how people waste life on things that don’t matter, and don’t take time to appreciate the small and more important things. This song’s sound is similar to Shadow, as it’s at a slower tempo than the others on the album, and of a more serious nature than the other songs.

Undiscovered is the longest track on the album, running at 4:56. It’s another slow tempo song- a rock ballad almost. I like this one- here Simpson looks back on a past relationship, and realizes that despite all the bad, she misses the person she was with and misses what they once had. Her voice isn’t as annoying as it has been in previous songs, and the raspiness of it is welcoming and gives a relaxing vibe for this song. She really comes close to begging the person to come back during the second verse (“I’m not breathing/I’m suffocating without you”) and the vulnerability works well and it seems like Simpson is singing from her heart here.

For the most part, Autobiography is a mediocre pop album. Ashlee Simpson isn’t the best singer and her songs aren’t terribly original or interesting, but there are a few likeable tracks that are worth a listen or two. This album doesn’t give a whole lot of foresight into Simpson’s personality, contrary to what the title suggests (her reality TV show probably did a better job at that), but the edgier pop/rock songs accomplish Simpson’s mission to set her apart from her older sister.

Rating: 3_stars.svg

Track List
1. Autobiography
2. Pieces of Me
3. Shadow
4. Lala
5. Love Makes the World Go Round
6. Better Off
7. Love Me for Me
8. Surrender
9. Unreachable
10. Nothing New
11. Giving It All Away
12. Undiscovered

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJCsyLUCSXI]

*This is a “classic” review. I have edited this review for content and formatting, though retained my original opinion of the product.

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