Amy Macdonald
A Curious Thing


4.0
excellent

Review

by Davey Boy STAFF
May 28th, 2010 | 181 replies | 15,769 views


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Electrifying Amy.

It is always interesting – and often telling – to see which songs an artist chooses to cover over the span of their career. One band may decide to perform a song that is as close to their sound as possible, while another will choose to go in exactly the opposite direction. Then there are musicians who could decide to cover an easy song so that they can claim they have improved the original, while other artists will intentionally test themselves on a track they know they cannot better. In the case of 22 year old Scottish singer-songwriter Amy MacDonald, it is extremely telling that the unlisted hidden track which closes her second album ‘A Curious Thing’ is a wholehearted live acoustic rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’.

Selling over three million copies, MacDonald’s superb 2007 debut LP ‘This Is The Life’ showcased an ambitious, sincere and mature story-teller with strong, self-assured vocals… Not unlike the key traits which The Boss had displayed decades before her, and still does to this very day. On an album loaded with potential singles, the fantastic acoustic melodies struck a chord with the European mainstream populous. Yet, on even the catchiest of numbers, MacDonald layered her songs with a rootsy element that also attracted admirers of folk and indie music. And just like The Boss’ early maturation between releases, MacDonald resists stagnation on a rockier and more polished follow-up which could very well attract an even larger audience to her music.

The fuller, punchier sound is immediately apparent on opener and lead single ‘Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over’, which begins with soaring electric guitar before keys, strings and Amy’s own acoustic guitar prowess merge to provide the album’s most commercial cut. The not too dissimilar ‘An Ordinary Life’ is just as effective, while drums are also much more prevalent than on her debut, with many songs containing a strong beat that drives them. This is not too suggest that MacDonald has totally dispensed with her trademark stripped-down sound, as seen on the first half of the multi-faceted and clearly personal ‘I Got No Roots’. Better yet, are the gorgeous, heartfelt acoustic ballad ‘My Only One’ and lovely sparse piano ballad ‘What Happiness Means To Me’, both of which beautifully incorporate a sweeping strings arrangement as they progress.

Once again, MacDonald impressively displays a beyond-her-years talent for interesting storytelling on ‘A Curious Thing’. Detailed and perceptive, lyrics are often not as easily interpreted as one would initially believe. For example; the “spacemen” and “astronauts” in second single ‘Spark’ are actually a reference to murdered two year old James Bulger. If MacDonald falters at all, it is her over-use of the “dealing with fame” theme, especially on the three track sequence from the country twang of ‘This Pretty Face’ through to ‘Next Big Thing’. Of course, it is still extremely easy to be wooed by Amy’s stunning and mesmerizing voice. With her enchanting Scottish accent, only the most content man will rebuff her when MacDonald pleads “Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over”, while her forceful delivery is entirely convincing when later stating that she “doesn’t care about the cameras and spotlights, because all she wants is an ordinary life”.

‘A Curious Thing’ may initially disappoint some listeners, since it does not match the overall quality of its predecessor. However, in the grand scheme of things, the edgier, more rock-oriented sound is the natural progression that Amy MacDonald was likely to make after touring with a full band for two years. Furthermore, the progression was almost required to continue the evolution of such a gifted artist. The peaks may not be as high here as on her debut, but the level of consistency and lack of filler is undoubtedly still a selling point. Meanwhile, MacDonald always keeps a keen ear for a memorable melody, no matter what the pace of a song is. On ‘An Ordinary Life’, Amy MacDonald ponders “I don’t know where I’ll be in ten years time, where will the music take me?” If there is any justice in the music industry, then this talented young songstress will continue to evolve and still be treating us all to some wonderful recordings.

Recommended Tracks: Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over, My Only One, An Ordinary Life & What Happiness Means To Me / Dancing In The Dark.



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user ratings (41)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As can be seen with my first change in avatar for 2 years, I may be a little biased when it comes to Ms. MacDonald. So, objectively, this is probably a 3.5. Her debut is superb imo.

Douglas
May 28th 2010



9049 Comments


she hawt

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

As can be seen with my first change in avatar for 2 years...........

Dougie, I actually think you'd like her.

Ire
May 28th 2010



41744 Comments


Good review, bro.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Ire.

This girl needs all the publicity she can get. Even though her debut sold 3 million copies, she is actually quite unknown outside of Europe.

jrowa001
May 28th 2010



8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

very nice! she only tours in europe i believe so im not surprised she isnt bigger in the states. i am dying to see her live but i looked at her tour schedule and its all in europe

Douglas
May 28th 2010



9049 Comments


Dougie, I actually think you'd like her.


Depends if I am her type? lololol

Mmmmk, I shall check it.

STOP SHOUTING!
May 28th 2010



631 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

that single was good. might get this.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"very nice! she only tours in europe i believe so im not surprised she isnt bigger in the states. i am dying to see her live but i looked at her tour schedule and its all in europe"

Yeah, I checked out the same thing the other week Jeff. Unsure why her label/management would not push to publicize her around the world. She is unknown in Oz also.

"Depends if I am her type? lololol" Haha. Not quite what I meant, but I don't blame for you thinking that way.

"that single was good. might get this." All her singles are great tbh. She could have just gone on releasing every song from her debut LP as a single.

Knott-
Emeritus
May 28th 2010



10194 Comments


is her debut really that good?

also good review but you went back to your old style a bit : (

also2 nice recs section

Kiran
Emeritus
May 28th 2010



6000 Comments


the single is really good

Digging: Cam'ron - Purple Haze

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah Adam, I really like her debut, which is much rawer than this. To be honest, I'm unsure I can even differentiate between my reviewing styles right now. I have tried to take some of the things from my previous 2 or 3, but I guess it comes down to the album & artist to some extent.

Looks like the single/opener has its fans. 'Spark' has been released as the 2nd single... Maybe they thought 'An Ordinary Life' would be a little too similar to 'Don't Tell Me That It's Over'.

Knott-
Emeritus
May 28th 2010



10194 Comments


what was that one song on it the one my mate with no clue about music liked and showed me and i was like actually this is the best thing youve ever listened to now burn your abba and aqua cds please

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Hehe. You drinking?

Umm, there were 5 singles released off her debut, so it's one of those I guess. Mr. Rock & Roll, This Is The Life, Poison Prince, Run or L.A... I'm guessing one of the first 3.

Knott-
Emeritus
May 28th 2010



10194 Comments


now?! it's 4.30 in the afternoon you madman! in fairness i havent slept though so :D

yeah mr. rock & roll. that was the one.

and i just couldn't be bothered with sentences and stuff. but now. i. can.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Warning: Excessive alcohol causes too little or too many sentences. I've actually forgotten what country you are currently in. Still Spain?

Yeah, 'Mr. Rock & Roll' is pretty cool. It wasn't immediate for me for some reason. I much prefer the title track & album track 'lets Start A band'.

Knott-
Emeritus
May 28th 2010



10194 Comments


ill try and remember to check it out at some point. i lost my list

yeah spain till the end of june, pretty mental. so warrrm and beachy.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
May 28th 2010



20855 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

OMG, you lost that long long list.

You world traveller you... If I was you, I'd just be a beach bum for the entire month of July.

ninjuice
May 28th 2010



6759 Comments


Great review as always. I think I'll look into this to see if it can satisfy my addiction to [at least semi-]attractive singer-songwriters.

Digging: Robin Skouteris - The King of ArtPOP

Yazz_Flute
May 28th 2010



18764 Comments


She's rather attractive.

Digging: Cormorant - Dwellings



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