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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 9 November 2003
This is a good album - a very good album from Australia's Neighbours actress. Although the best song on the whole is "Torn", there are enough other good tracks to make buying this one a pleasure. Track by track review:
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#01 TORN> One of my all time favorite songs. It's very sweet and very uplifting. But don't listen it too often! Too bad it's the first song on this album. Nevertheless: 10/10
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#02 ONE MORE ADDICTION> The second track on the album is most of the time very catchy and qualified for a single, but One More Addiction certainly isn't. It's worth a couple of listens - but don't expect too much of it. 5/10
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#03 BIG MISTAKE> A very powerful song with a strong chorus. I think it has some of the best lyrics on this album. Certainly a favorite. 9/10
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#04 LEAVE ME ALONE> Classy, sweet, city. It's nice but not too remarkable among the other songs. 7/10
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#05 WISHING I WAS THERE> This one is so great! It has a quite happy tone, compared to the other songs here. It doesn't grow old even if you listen it 1000x a day. 10/10
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#06 SMOKE> This is the album's summit. What appears to be a lousy ballad turns out to be a wonderful, yet powerful song, a kind that is very rare these (21st century) days. "You're hiding underneath the smoke in the room." Does it get better than this? 10/10
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#07 PIGEONS AND CRUMBS> Another ballad, and, though it is not as great as Smoke, it still has that emotional value that you don't want to miss. 8/10
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#08 DON'T YOU THINK?> There is nothing to say about this song. It's very normal, quite catchy, just good. Nice to listen to, sometimes. 7/10
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#09 IMPRESSED> This song really "attacks" you on your first listening. It's really good when you need a huge up-tempo song. 8/10
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#10 INTUITION> Not bad, not good, it's in the middle ;-). It reminds me a bit of Don't You Think. 7/10
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#11 CITY> This is again a very good song, mainly because of it's striking chorus. Natalie runs away from the city. 9/10
...and then five minutes later, there was this hidden track (unless it's presence on the tracklisting):
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#12 LEFT OF THE MIDDLE> Peace and tranquility on this final track. It's a grower, until you become hooked to it's mediocre chorus. 8/10
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Average: 8/10. Although the singles are the best tracks, this album certainly has more to offer. Now it's up to you if you'll buy it. Give Natalie a chance! I hope I have helped you make a decision.
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on 16 February 2001
Having heard Torn for the first time, I was an instant fan of Natalie. Her music, quite like that of Alanis Morrisette, it is straight from the heart. Following Torn, is the more rock styled "One more addiction" a song about being addicted to someone (Not drugs, which it has been mistaken for). Its a heavy song with great lyrics. Then is the released "Big Mistake". A real anger ballad about being cheated on in love. Quite emotional (theres no sign on the gate, and theres mud on your face, dont you thin its time we reinvestiagte this situation. Put some fruit on your plate. You forgotten how it started, close your eyes, think of all the bubbles of love we made). Following big mistake is the song, Leave me alone. Its quite different to the rest of the album, it's about men picking up on women (Ohh leave me alone, stop asking boy, Im going home on my own). A great song, mixed really well. Then is the melancholy Wishing I was there. About missing someone after a broken up relationship (Boy im not so dumb, but when you leave me, Ill be wishing I wishing I wishing I was there), quite a good song. Then comes the powerful ballad Smoke. About a lost childhood due to neglection (my lullaby, hung out to dry, whats up with that? Its over. where are you dad? Moms looking sad, whats up with that?), an excellant song. Not about Natalies own childhood. Then is the fantastic Pigeons and the crumbs. About cities and basically being too busy to accept the surrounding.. quite like London, where Natalie lived at the time. Then is Dont you think, a really good song. With some great metaphors (Borhter shoots brother, but meanwhile your fixing up your face), although not written by Nat. Then is Impressed, which has excellant up beat song on the album. One of my favorites on the album. (What youve got isnt all that you've been given, changing your body like you change your jeans, nothings ever as it seems. six foot leaning on a lizards chest, two red dragons ironed on his vest, all that money you deserve the best, Im impressed) The song is about men who go after blonde, tall, super model type women. Next is the brilliant Intuition. All about Natalies road in life. (Intuition, tells me, how to live my day, intuition tells me, when to walk away. Could have turned left could have turned right, but I ended up here and I feel alright). Its a great song. then is the quite depressive City, all about being alone and in a big city (london) and struggling. (Funny how those friends forget you when your tired of their games). And lastly is Left off The middle, a great acoustic song that rounds off the album nicely. (End of the third round, as I put the phone down, chasing the same light, over the old ground). The album is a great buy. Fans of torn, Big Mistake, wishing I was there and Smoke will love it.
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on 27 January 2001
In 1997 Natalie Imbruglia burst onto radio stations and tv shows with "that song". "Torn" was one of the biggest selling singles of that year, and even won Natalie the best video award at the brits. The break-up anthem was just a taste of the energy and strong vocal chords Natalie has to offer. Left of the middle introduces us to a unique blend of music styles, from the more "pop" song, Torn, to the haunting ballad of "Smoke" and the upbeat "Impressed". Describing Left of the middle as "Where she was at the time" and "Meaning it has no balanced" Natalie made an album that came purely from the heart. Writing 10 of the twelve tracks, Natalie wanted to make her album exactly that, HERS. None manufactured, just a part of her. A part you can either love or hate. She didn't want to be going to producers and asking "I want this done" she said "teach me". Learning production skills and writing skills Natalie set out to conquer the music market, and, is exactly what she done. Left of The Middle reached 6X platinum in her homeland of Australia, and furthered into greater figures across Europe, and smashing a top ten mark in the US. The songs themselves tell stories of Natalies life and thoughts...."Torn", "One more addiction", "Big Mistake", "Impressed" and "Leave me alone" show relationships at their climax, and Pigeons and the crumbs is a great orchestral of emotion about life in London. Along with "City". Left Of the Middle includes her top 2 hits, Torn, Big mistake and smoke and her top 20 hit Wishing I was there. Each having a different impact and sound. Vocally, there is none other. Slamming her music rivals such as Kylie Minogue, and Alanis Morrisette, she's set to make a style of her own, a style which captures the heart. A brilliant album with incrediable emotion poured into it. An excellant buy.
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on 6 June 2011
When this album came out in 1997, no-one expected much of Natalie Imbruglia. Casually dismissed as yet another ex-Neighbour looking to conquer the charts, being arguably one of the most beautiful women on the planet probably did her more harm than good in a post-Alanis Morissette era when even Kylie couldn't get arrested. Even now, the suspicion remains widespread that any success she's had must be down to her dazzling looks, rather than any musical talent.

'Torn' - the best-known track here - was a hugely successful single and deservedly so, but it remains her biggest hit, casting a long shadow over both the rest of the album and everything she's done since. This is a shame because for a debut offering, 'Left Of The Middle' is both assured and remarkably eclectic, ranging from the radio-friendly rock of 'Wishing I Was There' and 'Don't You Think' to the gently jazzy 'Leave Me Alone', a song that sounds like it could have been on the Sneaker Pimps' first album the previous year.

Right in the middle (!) of all this sit a brace of impeccable ballads: the dramatic 'Smoke' with its dark lyric and soaring chorus, followed by the elegantly understated 'Pigeons and Crumbs'. Your average R&B diva could learn much from these two songs about how to sing a tune without strangling it - and Ablisa (Google them) really should be forced to listen to them both for a whole week before ever being allowed near microphones again.

Perhaps inevitably, there are moments when the Morissette influence is a little too obvious - 'One More Addiction' and especially 'Intuition' sound blatantly contrived - but as redeeming closers go, you'd struggle to find anything better than the title track: a wonderfully intimate vocal from Imbruglia, with just a sympathetically-strummed guitar for company. Listening to this, along with the acoustic version of 'Torn' that's floating around on YouTube, one can't help wishing she'd followed a rootsier path, rather than trying to keep up with the Minogues.

Still, 'Left Of The Middle' remains an album full of surprises for those who have Imbruglia pegged as just a one-hit wonder with a pretty face. After all, there's no law that says good looks and talent are always mutually exclusive - some people are just incredibly fortunate. But who cares when they can sing like this?
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on 7 January 2004
Often overlooked as another pop debut album, this is easily one of the best albums to creep out of the 90's. Natalie Imbruglia manages to fuse uplifting light hearted pop with more emotional and focused instrumentals with an indie feel. A mix of tracks ranging from more grungey rock and indie to emotional ballads makes this easy too listen too and appealing to all.
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VINE VOICEon 3 April 2002
This is good; very good. If like me you want your music to be lasting then you will not have bought this. However, the second album is out and all those times I was thinking 'slow down love' during this first are almost explained by the second.
Production is what makes this a great album, Nat's vocals are only a part of a finished product, however you feel that she has a major artistic infuence in this album because there are echoes in the sequel. There are psychedelic influences and spiritual hints as well as fluff (there is some fluff).
This is an album of a not fully matured (i.e. grown-up) artist and it's a bit sixthformish, for those of you old enough to know what that means, but the hints at more to come finally have come to fruition some three years on in her follow up White lillies Island. Buy them as a set, they work so well complimenting each other.
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on 27 January 2001
Who'd have thought an actress from a dull, Australian soap could sing on such an excellent album?
It starts with the perfect pop song "Torn" and races along through what might be described as a series of pastiches of other artists. Even though Natalie might not quite have a definable sound of her own, the songs are so strong it really doesn't matter. There are four or five real stand out tracks, but the rest are well good enough to make this album stand up to repeated listening. Two years or more after its release and it still sounds fresh.
Buy it if you like good quality pop songs.
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on 20 January 2013
Before I popped the CD of "Left Of The Middle" -the 1997 debut album from Natalie Imbruglia- into my computer, I had my predictions on what was gonna go into my ears. I was expecting most of the songs to be elegant light-hearted pop. As a grown man I shouldn't be into that sort of stuff, but hey. I don't call myself the "90's Guy" for nothing! I like a lot of 90's music. But when I listened to the album from start to finish, I found a lot of the songs to have more of a rock sound (at times edgy) with some emotionally uncomfortable lyrics.

It was surprising at first, but after thinking about it for a while I realized it shouldn't have been. Kylie Minogue had been through the Australian-soapstar-turned-singer mill about a decade earlier, and became popular for her string of energetic and catchy (if somewhat cheesy from some POVs) pop music. If Natalie had gone in that direction she probably would've been seen as nothing more than a Kylie wannabe. So credit is due for trying something a little different.

But in terms of lyrical content she could've done with being a little more upbeat. The stories in the songs are quite negative. TORN and BIG MISTAKE are clearly break-up songs; and on a side note I mentioned in a 4hits review on Natalie's music once that "I think it's meant to be a breakup song." referring to TORN. It is...and I'm sorry for being surprisingly and ridiculously slow. Elsewhere ONE MORE ADDICTION is about having an addiction and knowing that it should be done away with; PIGEONS AND CRUMBS, in addition to being rather drawn out, is about not being special and pretty much being lost in the shuffle; while SMOKE sounds like the story of a person's troubled childhood. Judging by the frequent use of the word "bleeding" it sounds like it was very troubled. All these stories are quite depressing and at times they make it difficult to enjoy the songs' instrument usage.

However if you don't care much for the lyrical meanings and would rather ignore my views on them, then there's a lot of interesting sounds in the songs to keep you satisfied. In TORN the acoustic guitar (particularly at the beginning) makes the song elegant, yet the drumbeat makes it strong and uplifting at the same time. Clearly my favourite piece, which is not too surprising given that this is Natalie's most famous bit of work.

Elsewhere, ONE MORE ADDICTION and BIG MISTAKE are pretty good rock tunes. They make you wanna jump out of your chair and pretend to play guitar...well I do anyway. WISHING I WAS THERE is not only a lively and enjoyable track, but it also contains the only positive story on the album, that being about a relationship going great and hoping that it stays that way; while IMPRESSED is an oriental-styled dancebeat tune that is, ahem...impressive. Lovely beat and a joy to listen to.

"Left Of The Middle" is by no means perfect, even if its multi-platinum selling status suggests otherwise. However there's plenty of good stuff on this album to make it worth the purchase, especially to those who enjoy 90's music.
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on 24 May 2002
Having recently stumbled upon Natalies second album, "White Lillies Island" and being blown away with it, I thought I should try the first album, especially at such a price!! Well, thank you Amazon is all I can say. Opening with the radio friendly classic "Torn" this album proves, beyond doubt, that whilst the lady might be tiny, her talent for songwriting, and singing, is truly awesome.The second track "One more addiction" confirms her ability to rock, and sing with attitude.Track 3 was also a single, not so radio friendly, but self penned, unlike "Torn", "Big Mistake" tells of a lover trying to get back into Natalie's good books and the power with which it is delivered suggests it may have reality in its conception. "Leave me alone", "Smoke" and "Pigeons and crumbs" are all slower, slightly melancholic, and simply stunning, all boast a slightly dreamier and sad tone, but are delivered superbly. The 3 slower songs are broken up by another single "Wishing i was there" another under used classic. The album then returns to woman power rock with "Don't you think" a song that questions how some people cannot prioritise, "Impressed" is a song about a rich chap who is full of himself, but not well liked by our Nat, "Intuition" is probably self explanotory, and is also the weakest song on the album, and is followed by "City" another guitar lead gem, which hints at a change of life, ie out of the city to just about anywhere. The final track is the title track "Left of the middle" and is sultry and slow, accoustic guitar, mixed with low and powerful vocals, and it is so good, you have to wait for 4minutes and 59 seconds before it starts!!! The wait is worth it though. So to sum up, I thought that "White Lillies " was possibly the best pop album ever, and this could be very close to being number 2. It is certainly in the top 5, and Natalie Imbruglia deserves to be bigger than Madonna, only time will tell if this becomes so, but in the meantime, planet earth, do your ears a favour, go buy both of Natalies albums, trust me you will NOT be disappointed.
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on 1 August 2000
What can I say? The adoreable doll like features of the incredibly photogenic Natalie Imbruglia is not let down by this debut album. This is a class album. From the feelings that come with Torn to the pulses that come with Smoke. This stands out as being one of the most surprisingly good albums in a long, long time. (How many of you knew of her vocal talents that were hidden in Neighbours) Its nice to see that this album has feeling and none of that commercial manufactured nonsense that todays charts are full of.
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