Michelle Branch is well-known for some of her classic pop-rock hits, such as “Goodbye To You,” which she even performed live on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed, but I think lesser-known is her foray into country music through her side project The Wreckers with Jessica Harp and her country-pop EP, Everything Comes and Goes. Her work in this area doesn’t stray too far from her pop-rock work; I know a lot of people run screaming as soon as they hear “country” associated with anything, but even if country absolutely isn’t your cup of tea, Branch’s work in this area is much more of a blending of her previous style with the new than a drastic step into the unknown; more than anything, I’d describe it as her pop-rock work with a country twinge. I’m a fan of country music, of course, but I do love her work in this area, particularly Everything Comes And Goes, and my favorite track from it, the soft ballad “Summertime.”
Backed by wistful mandolin and soft guitar, the stripped-down ballad tells a story of lost love. The choruses present a reminiscence of passionate love and a time when things were perfect, while the verses are filled with nostalgic reflection from the present. It presents a poignant tale of lost love and lost contact, where one party has moved on while the other is so clearly still struggling with their feelings, and it’s heartbreaking. It’s at its most powerful in the second verse, wherein Branch describes a chance encounter with the other party that left her paralyzed. Even more powerful is the follow-up, where she acknowledges that her former love’s significant other is “wearing that shiny diamond ring,” and yet still hopes that they’re happy before noting, “I know it might be wrong / yeah, it might be wrong / but when I think about you / I just can’t forget summertime,” emphasizing that she is far from over what was lost.
“Summertime” overall is an emotionally raw but incredibly relatable ballad of a formative and important relationship that is incredibly difficult—if not impossible—to move past. Even though it speaks of a reflection on summer, it strongly brings to mind the bright days and warm evenings so characteristic of the season through its lyrics and its sound. Whether country is traditionally something you enjoy or not—and especially if you’ve enjoyed Branch’s other work—“Summertime” is a song that’s worth giving a listen.