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Life In A Beautiful Light
Glasgow songstress returns to form
Colm O Hare, 29 May 2012
Catapulted to success at only 18 with a slew of memorably catchy folk rock tunes including ‘Mr. Rock & Roll’ and the title-track from her feisty debut, 2007’s This Is The Life, Glasgow troubadour Amy MacDonald took some time out after the slightly disappointing follow-up, A Curious Thing. The sabbatical has paid off: the opening track on her third album, ‘4th July’ finds her in energetic mode, no doubt rejuvenated and refreshed, if a little older and wiser. The positivity is reflected in the lyrics. “Nothing and nobody is ever going to bring me down,” she declares defiantly on the title-track, an anthemic, country-ish rocker with a driving bassline and a rousing chorus.
MacDonald’s strong points – her distinctive, wavering vocal style and a penchant for well turned-out indie-pop melodies and keenly-observed lyrics – are fully present and correct here. The instrumental backdrop remains a blend of acoustic and electric guitars, piano and a rhythm section that appears to be directly descended from The Waterboys’ Fisherman’s Blues period – the jaunty, rollicking ‘Pride’ being the perfect example.
Even at 24, she displays a world-weariness that belies her years. On ‘The Days of Being Young And Free’, she looks back on her carefree youth reminiscing, “What I wouldn’t give to live it all again.”
Elsewhere, ‘The Game’ blends soaring, U2 guitar-textures and fiddle with a Sinéad O’Connor-meets-Björk vocal, while ‘Across The Nile’ is yet another rousing mid-tempo rocker. But the highlight by a mile is the bittersweet love song, ‘The Green And Blue’ which is inspired by her hometown’s long-running Rangers/Celtic rivalry. With a lovely, keening melody she leaves her lover – imagined or real – in no doubt as to her ultimate loyalties: “The green and the blue come between me and you on a Saturday afternoon.”