Reviewed by Matt Dentler, Fri., Sept. 3, 2004
Ashlee SimpsonAutobiography (Geffen) Only seconds into her debut, Autobiography, Ashlee Simpson reveals something even her hit MTV reality show couldn't: She's lying. "I walked 1,000 miles while everyone was asleep. Nobody's really seen my million subtleties," the Texan sings on the title track. Anyone who's watched a few episodes of The Ashlee Simpson Show knows that Jessica's li'l sis has a handful of subtleties, tops. Most of them are covered in one song, the lush "Shadow," chronicling Ashlee's dizzying attempts to follow in her sibling's footsteps. Their music is nothing alike, Ashlee trying to be Avril to her sister's Britney. Ashlee manages more impressive results, and with producer John Shanks by her side, Autobiography covers up whatever emotional depth is lacking with tight, glossy arrangements. While a track like "Love Me for Me" is a highlight, it's at the expense of instant comparisons to Gwen Stefani. Ditto for "Giving It All Away," only here it's Michelle Branch. Stefani or Branch will do any day over a Jessica Simpson clone, but for an album that claims to wear its heart on its sleeve, there isn't much to glean from the songwriting. Plus, there are disturbing moments like "Lala," a forced declaration of teenage Ashlee's sexual identity with lines like "I'll be a French maid when I meet you at the door. I'm like an alley cat. Drink the milk up, I want more." No more for us, thanks.