Amy Macdonald - Life In A Beautiful Light
Much of what Amy Macdonald has done on Life In A Beautiful Light is to concentrate on big, big choruses and big production - to the point that you can even buy a super-deluxe edition of the album that includes sing-a-long instrumental versions of several of the tracks, so firmly has she nailed her colours to the big choruses mast. It's not surprising when you look at her influences; her covers tend towards the bombastic, with Springsteen's 'Born To Run' and The Killers 'Mr Brightside' both staples of her live set, and it's that sound she's going for here.
To sit beside the sonic dramas, Macdonald has turned to loftier themes and there's even some indication she'd like to be Bono on the political 'Across The Nile', an anthem for the Arab Spring complete with Edge-influenced guitar part. She also gives the Chilean miners two minutes of trite attention on 'Human Spirit', which she's pleased to see is alive and well. It's somewhat telling when a press release that accompanies an album tells you nothing at all about the music, only the artist's sales - perhaps it does lend some context, though. It feels like this is an album designed to play to big rooms.
With millions of discs sold, particularly in Europe, there's little need for her to change a winning formula, which in this case means widescreen and upbeat. The problem is that for all the big bits, only a couple of tracks really soar. First single 'Slow It Down' is infuriatingly catchy and the uplifting title track also stands out. While her Scottish brogue makes her vocals distinctive, the lyrics are too often unremarkable, which makes for a frustrating listen. She's clearly got the knack for a chorus, but the songs don't hold up to scrutiny. When she does change pace she proves more effective, particularly on the haunting 'Left That Body Long Ago' (about her Grandmother's struggle with Alzheimer's).
As radio friendly MOR, it's pleasant enough, but there's little here to get excited about.