Amy MacDonald’s first album This is the Life was a happy discovery I made last year. Her follow up release A Curious Thing was released this year with little fanfare — at least here in the States.
The most striking aspect of A Curious Thing is the change in sound. This is the Life had a strong folk influences. That isn’t to say it was a spare album. Quite the opposite, the production was very lush, and really sounded quite a bit like a Sarah McLachlan album from the mid-Nineties. However, on A Curious Thing MacDonald opted for a more traditional rock sound. While this might upset people who really loved the way the first album sounded, I like when an artist, especially a young one, tries out different sounds. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I appreciate the effort.
Here though it absolutely works. MacDonald’s strong voice cuts through whatever is backing her. Plus, a rock beat lends an edge to the songs that was not present in the first album. The lyrics aren’t as evocative as the ones on This is the Life, but they aren’t banal either. As an added bonus hidden at the end of the last track of the album is an acoustic rendition of the Bruce Spingsteen hit Dancing in the Dark. I’m a total junkie for covers, especially the unexpected ones.
On the whole, A Curious Thing is a solid album. It is not quite as good as This is the Life but shows that MacDonald is not content to keep doing what she has done, but try something new. I’m now very curious to see what she does next.