26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, more mature second album,
By A Customer
This review is from: White Lilies Island (Audio CD)
Following up her brilliant debut album "Left of the Middle", which was a huge success critically and commercially, was never going to be an easy task for Natalie Imbruglia. But refreshingly for a soap-star turned singer, she took her time and thought long and hard before following up her first offering.
45 songs and 4 years later, Imbruglia has hand picked 12 to appear on "White Lilies Island". She points to groups such as Travis, Radiohead, and Coldplay as her influences this time, as opposed to the more feminine influences of "Left of the Middle". Not that's you'd necessarily notice--the album has its own sound entirely, largely thanks to Imbruglia's divine voice which comes shining through all the tracks, but also thanks to her movement on the album towards the sound of her B sides from her previous releases (try "Diving in the deep end" and "Something Better" on her old single releases for a taster of what's to come on "White Lilies Island"). It's all a recognisable development from Imbruglia past, but is surprising enough never to bore.
The CD opens with a great piece of guitar and strings based rock/pop, which is also her first single release from the album: "That Day" lets us know that Imbruglia's not just out to recreate her smash hit "Torn" in as many was as she can. On the contrary, this song shows a touching self awareness, and a fragility that seems surprisingly genuine. Here sings a lady with many superficial reasons to be happy (money, looks, a voice to die for...), but who instead chooses to smile at the chaos and peculiarities of life: "that day, that day, what a marvellous mess... sad, scared, alone, beautiful, it's supposed to be like this, I accept everything: it's supposed to be like this... and I'm tired, and I'm right, and I'm wrong, and it's beautiful".
This frailty and emotional nakedness continues in the same totally believable way into "Wrong Impression", which in its uncomplicatedness shows how Imbruglia's songs are good songs, and not just good 'tracks': they don't rely on clever production or over-layered collage-ing of sounds. Which is not to suggest the album is under developed acoustically, nor is it totally introspective or navel-gazing. "Beauty on the fire" and "Everything goes" are both beautifully produced tracks, with a big sound (strings and all) entirely suitable for their analytical subject matters.
"Satellite" might sound a bit like Jewel-meets-Alisha's Attic, but as ever Imbruglia has brought plenty of her own personality to this love song. No new thinking here, nor vocal or lyrical gymnastics, but this simplicity is what makes the song work: it's in the non verbal "do do do do do da do da" and "shaba da da da-da" lines that she gets across the true emotion of the song.
Perhaps most spectacular is Imbruglia's use of the conceit, and her mastering of the memorable and sometimes surprising musical 'hook'. The stand out track of the album, "Goodbye", is a perfect example. It's a gorgeous but tragically sad song, which is at once a vehicle for her exquisite voice (here haunting us, almost crying the lyrics), but also her poignant lyrics: "but they tell me I'll be fine / That it will all get better. / Just try to write it down / Or put it in a letter. / But the words won't play, / And there's no easy way to say / Goodbye". The music is again perfect-- shifting mood as her thoughts do so-- and the over all sound is just right. This is by far the best track (positioned suitably exactly mid-album), with all of the best Imbruglia features presented together at once: the voice, the emotion, the careful lyrics with their matching melodic shifts, all designed to make just the right bits stay in the listener's mind.
There isn't really a track you'll skip over regularly. You might want to listen to one that suits your mood at a particular moment-- and if that's your style you'll be pleased to have one to suite most moods-- but the album plays through pretty well too, holding itself together competently. Perhaps notable for a closing mention would be "Come September", which combines beautifully Imbruglia's dreamy vocals with a partly mechanical instrumental sound that conjures up a strangely modern make-believe world of fairy tale well suited to the twenty-first century. We find ourselves in a brave new world: a slightly jaded place, a place where "as the passion dies her magic heart will break", but where "everything wrong gonna be alright". That place, where we realise nothing's quite what we thought it was, but where there's beauty none the less in that discovery, is called White Lilies Island.