Sitting at home in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband of just a year, indie pop singer Ingrid Michaelson seems miles away from the heartbreak of her fifth album, Human Again.
Quick to admit that she's veered away from the sugar-coated pop songs of previous albums — many of which are familiar to viewers of TV shows such as Scrubs, Grey's Anatomy and One Tree Hill — Michaelson went into creating her new collection with a clear view of what it wouldn’t be.
"I think people, at least in the States, identify me by a handful of songs and a lot of them are upbeat and cutesy kind of songs," the 32-year-old says. "This time around, so I couldn't be pigeonholed, I didn't put any of those kinds of songs on my record."
Writing the whole record in the space of half a year, Michaelson was on a mission of self growth. There's nothing like a bit of heartbreak to rip off the pop-infused rose-coloured glasses.
A propulsive orchestral sound sets the tone of her musical exploration, lending itself to a darker, richer sound than her earlier upbeat, pop-focused material. While it has been pegged as a break-up album, Michaelson insists there is an underlying hope to her words.
"These are songs about a break-up but, as a whole, this is about the human condition of relationships and navigating your way through what can be a difficult path," she says. "But, even in the sad songs, I feel like there's an undercurrent of hope."
Shaking off the sugar but keeping your heart on your sleeve is no mean feat. Though, for Michaelson, making the transition from writing about Rogaine (as she did on The Way I Am on the 2006 album Girls and Boys) to scaling the entire spectrum of heartbreak, presented only one problem — being original.
"I feel like everything that I say is the same thing that everyone else has felt. I just try to say things in a way that can be visualised," she says. "I'm very tactile when I write — I'm really just worried that people won’t find it unique, which is tricky when you're writing about something that’s universally personal."
Now that she's "grown", what the future holds is unknown although Michaelson isn't shutting any doors. With her music career steadily growing — Human Again made its debut at No. 5 on the US Billboard charts — she’s looking into venturing into television.
"I did musical theatre at school and did the whole acting thing in New York for year and I've never really lost that love for acting,' Michaelson says. "So if something turns up and is the right fit I'd love to get involved."
Her attitude of moving forward and learning from a relationship instead of allowing it to cripple her is one that is woven through her record and appears through her life. Fans of the singer will be pleased to know that she’s come out the other side and is, as she says, Human Again.
"To be honest, I'm just in a really happy place right now," Michaelson says. "Every year just gets better and better."
Human Again is out now.