Review : Natalie Imbruglia - Come To Life
MusicomhCome To Life, the fourth album from Natalie Imbruglia, was originally intended for release in autumn 2009. Then, at the eleventh hour, after review copies had been issued to sundry music publications (including, of course, this one), her record company have chosen to shift the release back to February 2010.
Such a late change smacks of nervousness on the part of Imbruglia's label. This nervousness is also reflected in the album's sequencing, which sees the Australian singer's trademark aspirational pop shoved unceremoniously towards the top, while the album's second half comprises five experimental songs. (That's 'experimental' in terms relative to the rest of Imbruglia's output; it's not as if she's rivalling The Residents for weirdness just yet.)
First, then, the 'normal'-sounding stuff. Opener My God begins with some wrong-footing, industrial-style clanging, but soon settles into a comfortably familiar groove: an acoustic guitar is strummed purposefully, and Imbruglia trills about nice things: "a sea so clear", "a face that's so beautiful", and so on....full text
SputnikmusicBack in 1997, Natalie Imbruglia took the world by storm; earning a Grammy nomination for debut LP 'Left of the Middle' and breaking airplay records with its lead single 'Torn'. While television soap stars had previously made a successful crossover to pop music, it seemed Imbruglia was different. Here was a female vocalist who sang with a decidedly indie bent, and one who was even brave enough to kick-start her musical career with a cover of a practically unknown song. You won't see the kiddies on Idol do that!
Unfortunately, since 'Torn', Imbruglia's musical career has coughed and spluttered in between the occasional acting assignments and a tilt at modeling. Recording predominantly safe and unimaginative cuts, it seemed that Imbruglia's problem was that she was so single-mindedly searching for Torn Mk.II that she never pushed herself to moving into 2nd gear. With a little help from some... ummm... friends, the now 34 year old explores that 2nd gear and the results are mixed.
The first acquaintance who collaborates with Imbruglia here is long-ago flame Chris Martin. In fact, 2 tracks are practically off-cuts from Coldplay's critically acclaimed 'Viva La Vida' LP. It's apparent with 'Fun', a cut that is too grandiose for its own good. However, the quirky & unconventionally hooky Brian Eno produced 'Lukas' is a different matter, since Natalie's innocent sounding vocals truly make this her own (although I have to wonder whether Suzanne Vega is raising an eyebrow somewhere). Later, the catchy chorus of acoustic ballad 'Scars' is also a highlight, since it has that same likeable charm....full text
YahooThere are really two questions begging answers; firstly, is there anything on here that can touch 'Torn'? That's a depressingly old question, but one that continues to bother a career that may have had its moments but never managed to outshine its ubiquitous early mega-hit. And secondly, does such a thing as The Chris Martin Effect exist and, if so, does it have the power to perform mouth-to-mouth on a sweet, ailing career? And on this occasion he supports his chosen charity by doing more than scrawling her name on his hand in marker, offering up three songs that have become the effective centrepieces of 'Come To Life'.
The answer to both questions is nearly. Almost. It's a theme that's been following her around for a decade. This is probably her most interesting set of songs to date, one that occasionally demands something from you as a listener rather than simply feeding you cotton wool, but in terms of impact, it is a little lacking. Imbruglia's voice very rarely asserts itself and in spite of putting Chris Martin and producer Brian Eno on the payroll, she is serviced by musicians who sound like they've been assembled to play a fictional soap opera band.
The Coldplay tracks though are lovely, heartfelt things and so close to being excellent. Unsurprising in the most reassuring (and, she must hope, unit-shifting) way, they're lifted straight off the peg, literally - being actual leftovers from the 'Viva La Vida' sessions. 'Lukas' skips non-threateningly, airy and twinkle-toed, typical acoustic guitar underpinned by a warm synth recalling both its composers and the palatable '80s pop of A-ha. Though its trajectory remains fairly level, it withstands repeated listens and shimmies into something quite captivating over time. 'Fun' is even more a slow-burning epic, layering standard U2 delayed guitar and strings, but lacking the gravitas that you would imagine an actual Coldplay performance would bring....full text
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