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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 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 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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on 16 November 1999
I enjoy listening to this cd, but there is nothing too great about it. There are all too many singers who have a somewhat similar sound to Natalie Imbruglia, and unfortunately they do it better. The song Torn was not written by Natalie and although it made her a big sensation she shows little gratitude to those she bought the song from. There are a couple of good songs here though - one of my other favorites is "Pigeons and Crumbs" which sounds silly but is actually quite good.
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on 28 December 1999
Natalie Imbruglia-former soap star- suprised me with this album. Combined with her raspy voice, the suprisingly good lyrics and the superb guitar rift in the track 'city', make Natalie Imbruglia an indie queen for the future.
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on 17 July 2000
This is a brilliant album which deserves a lot of credit as it has such hits as "Torn" and "Big Mistake". This is a class album and you'd be a P*** not to buy it.
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on 1 April 2000
I really liked Natalie's singles so I thought the the rest of the album would be just as good, unfortunately the only good tracks are the 3 which were released as singles. Natalie has a good voice but it's wasted on this collection of tuneless and forgetable songs.
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on 24 February 2017
As much as I love Ms. Imbruglia, it had been several years since I'd listened to any of her albums. What a big mistake!

I bought this album recently to put in my collection because I'd only bought the singles originally.

This album reminds me of Alanis Morrisette's Jagged Little Pill in that it's got some bite to it, but also in that the whole album is excellent, and really is one of my favourite solo artist albums.
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on 6 May 2000
Why didn't they hire a qualified producer if they really wanted to promote this Australian girl and make her a superstar? The sound is bad, the instrumentation is poor, and the songs lack originality (not only the known »Torn« which was taken, without bothering to inform the public about its roots, from Danish singeress Lis Sørensen).
»Left Of The Middle« could've been a quite OK album if the songs were polished a couple of times more, and if they had found a producer who was able to produce. And a singer who was able to sing this stuff in a catching way.
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on 16 August 2012
I bought this new and sealed as a present but on opening discovered that the middle of the box was smashed and rattling about inside. Not really on for a new product!
The album itself is great, would recomend.
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