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Avril Lavigne bares soul in latest release

Observer Scene | Thursday, September 9, 2004

Admitting to your friends that you dig Avril Lavigne might earn you a few eye rolls and jeers, but the truth is that, like many angst-ridden teens these days, Avril has been misjudged by her peers. With the success of her debut album “Let Go,” Lavigne earned the reputation as pop punk’s little princess. When most female pop stars were selling themselves through breast enlargements and choreography, this boisterous tomboy blew up on the music scene with skateboard in hand and tie and guitar around her neck. Despite selling millions of records, topping radio charts across the country and being nominated for two Grammys, Lavigne did not gain respect as an artist with musical credibility, despite her efforts to extricate herself from the mass-marked pop queen scene. In an interview, Lavigne dismissed the notion that she is trying to create punk music: “I have been labeled like I’m this angry girl – I’m like this rebel, I’m like, punk, and I am so not any of them.” Those who have listened to “Let Go” have seen that, like ogres and onions, this girl has got layers. Songs like “Mobile” and “Anything but Ordinary” show an amazing amount of songwriting talent for such a young girl. It was not a raucous diatribe against the world; it was simply the musings of a 17 year-old girl who doesn’t quite fit in.On her second album, “Under My Skin,” Lavigne trades in her skateboard for tutus, revealing a more mature and feminine side while still marching to the beat of her own drum. “Under My Skin” is an incredible development in Lavigne’s songwriting and musical capabilities that undoubtedly reflect the tremendous experience she has gained from the past two years. The record opens with a pounding reflection of static anguish in “Take Me Away.” Jadedness seeps through songs like “My Happy Ending” and “He Wasn’t,” revealing the 19-year old’s rough experiences with heartbreak. More than just an exposition on relationships, “Under my Skin” is the self-examination of a troubled girl. She slows down the album with the detached “How Does it Feel” and the beautifully written “Nobody’s Home,” in which Lavigne comes to terms with loneliness and confusion. In further contrast to her blonde counterparts, Lavigne confronts reservations about sex in “Don’t Tell Me.” The album ends on a somber note with the deeply moving “Slipped Away,” a song Lavigne wrote and dedicated to the memory of her grandfather. This is a compelling CD affecting its listener on a more personal level. Lavigne attributes much of her success on this album to her friend and mentor Chantal Kreviazuk. With the help of Kreviazuk, Lavigne has dug far beyond the superficiality of “Complicated” and “Skater Boi,” and invited her audience to discover who she is and what she is about. Avril Lavigne has bared her soul on this CD and “Under My Skin” shows more artistic progression in two years than many people achieve in their entire career”.