Review : Amy Macdonald - Life In A Beautiful Light
SputnikmusicNot that anyone is really interested, but if you discount watching the YouTube stream of the Bonnarroo Music Festival, I did stuff-all this past weekend. Sometimes, the batteries just have to be re-charged... No socializing, no work, nothing... Just getting comfortable in your favorite seat with your beverage of choice and letting the time fly by as you listen to some music and watch some television. Of course, when someone subsequently asks what you did over the weekend, there is always that uncomfortable pause before you realize that you are a lazy ass and answer with “just chilled”. A week later and you can’t even remember the particular weekend existed. It’s kind of like Amy Macdonald’s third LP ‘Life In A Beautiful Light’... It’s nice, it’s comfortable and you may even tell someone to get nicked if they attempt to interrupt you. But when all is said and done, it’s a little too forgettable and subsequently makes you feel as if nothing fruitful has been achieved.
Attempting to find a middle ground between the predominantly upbeat acoustic melodies of her superb debut LP and the edgier, more rock-oriented follow-up, the Scottish singer-songwriter clearly has her heart in the right place here. However, those familiar with Macdonald would already presume that, not being fooled into thinking that the “Tales of the USA” themed opener ‘4th of July’ is an attempt to target a greater audience. If anything, the 24 year old is looking for an inter-generational market in much the same way as Adele has struck gold. Initially, all seems to be on track, with the aforementioned opener, the following ‘Pride’ and lead single ‘Slow It Down’ all galloping along in an upbeat manner, and delivering easily recitable choruses. There are even some steel guitar tones and delayed effects, which hint at an interesting updating of Macdonald’s rootsier beginnings. Unfortunately, it all soon evaporates into an inoffensive and borderline bland heap, with many a latter-half track just floating on by and failing to hold interest.
Since there aren’t a great deal of them, it seems easier to highlight those tunes which do stand out. Arguably the album’s most polarizing track, ‘The Game’ is a rousing number, where Macdonald’s vocals are pushed to stretching point over delayed guitars, horns, strings and piano. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the emotional recount of her grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s Disease that is ‘Left That Body Long Ago’ brings an eeriness to proceedings, while hidden track ‘Two Worlds’ is the predictable raw acoustic cut. As always, Macdonald’s voice is simply enchanting, her Scottish accent even lending conviction to clichéd lyrics such as “All my life this is what I was born to do. No sacrifice, I wouldn’t give it up for you”. There is also a reason why the LP is aptly titled ‘Life In A Beautiful Light’, since it is primarily optimistic in mood. Macdonald even finds a positive angle on the infamous Glasgow footballing rivalry on ‘The Green and the Blue’... Doesn’t she know that Rangers are deep in debt and have entered administration?...full text
BbcThree albums down and Amy Macdonald is acquiring an air of always-the-bridesmaid. The 24-year-old’s previous long-players’ combined sales total around four million, but it’s a rare listener who’d name her alongside Adele or Amy Winehouse in terms of recognisably successful modern UK artists.
Listening to this third album, recorded after Macdonald took a year off to recharge batteries drained touring 2010’s A Curious Thing, it’s easy to hear why superstar status has eluded her. She’s just too plain to stand out in the contemporary pop landscape, with nothing in her arsenal that other singers offering middle-of-the-road strum-alongs can’t provide.
The most striking aspect of her voice is, simply, that there’s an accent in there – she hails from East Dumbartonshire. Think what you like about Jessie J’s histrionics, but at least hers is an instantly recognisable identity. The most Macdonald can hope for, vocally, is to step out from the shadows cast by Annie Lennox and KT Tunstall while said performers are on downtime....full text
MusicomhYou may have forgotten about Amy Macdonald. Yet while Adele is out there conquering most of the modern world, the unassuming young Scottish singer has been knocking up almost as impressive sales figures in Europe, especially in Germany.
That may come as a surprise to those of us who remember the shy teenager singing songs about the break-up of The Libertines or dreaming of becoming of a pop star. Her third album has a suitably bigger, more confident sound, but it's arguable that somewhere along the way, some of the charm's been lost.
It's clear from the outset though that Macdonald hasn't lost her knack for a memorable, powerful chorus. Opening track 4th Of July begins with a scratchy sample of The Star-Spangled Banner, before launching into a chorus that the likes of The Killers would be proud of. It's nothing startlingly original, but the addition of handclaps and a memorable horn section make for an enjoyable opener.
She pulls it off again with Slow It Down, another urgent, driving track which shows off her voice to its best advantage. Macdonald's vocals may be divisive (she has a tendency to wail sometimes, in the manner of The Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan), but every so often she'll sound heartbreakingly sad and vulnerable - almost old before her time - before switching back into a more strong and powerful mode....full text
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