“Oh everybody said she was the next big thing. The shining light on a the Saturday night. Dreaming of the day when she could run away. She didn’t believe the hype, was right.” Amy Macdonald was just turning 20 when she found herself catapulted from obscurity to international star. Her 2007 debut This Is The Life was not just successful, it was a phenomenon. The self-taught musician from Bishopbriggs, Scotland had been inspired to try writing a song after seeing fellow Scots Travis in concert, little did she know that her musings would go on to sell in excess of 3 million copies and make her one of the most lucrative UK female singer/songwriters to date. A three year hiatus was well deserved for the girl who never dreamt of stardom.
A Curious Thing marks her return to the music scene, but sees Macdonald sceptical about the hype that has surrounded her from the outset. Musically Macdonald has not ventured far from her folk-pop grounding, but lyrically it is evident that Macdonald can no longer be just the girl from Bishopbriggs. “Next Big Thing” addresses the marketing that surrounds her, whilst “No Roots” explains the real reason she continues to embark on a career that clearly troubles her. Bittersweet “An Ordinary Life” is full of confused proclamations, with a determined Macdonald keen to return to anonymity.
A Curious Thing could have been more adventurous, but instead it opts for honest simplicity
Macdonald’s chug along style makes A Curious Thing perfect hum along material. Packed with twelve potential singles, Macdonald allows listeners into her insecurities when the pace relents. “What Happiness Means To Me” is bashfully beautiful, whilst “This Pretty Face” oozes optimism.
Macdonald occasionally plays her cards too carefully. Having created a niche for herself with This Is The Life, moving too far from her distinct sound may alienate fans. As if too appease those wanting Macdonald to stay the same, A Curious Thing contains one too many tracks that would have slotted perfectly onto her debut album. Lead single “Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over” just about gets away with it, but “Love Love” and “Your Time Will Come” are inexcusable.
Macdonald’s tirade against her good fortune may rile those who helped put her in a fortunate position, but Macdonald has never made her music to please the critics. Even if Macdonald has pandered in places to what her fans would want, her direct approach and rich vocal are as appealing now as they were on her debut. A Curious Thing could have been more adventurous, but instead it opts for honest simplicity.