Amanda Marshall likes to surprise us – with three albums, each unique, each a gem. No matter whom she works with she's brilliant.
Amanda should be one of the best-selling artists, hardly an acquired taste. Then again, she doesn't follow a successful formula, unless you count turning out unique albums. On Everybody's Got A Story [SONY, 2002; 12, 47:04], none of the songs are reminiscent of any other recordings. It's a new experience! What I look for in an album.
And it's not just new, it's great. Working with producers Peter Asher and Billy Mann. who contributes instrumental backing, they've created another monster album. Predictably, Story has full-production sound, but the arrangements never overshadow Amanda's powerful voice, sounding better than ever. The fine recording may be digital – at the least digitally mixed. You don't want Columbia giving away too much information in the booklet.
There are musical knickknacks bridging the songs, so they flow into each other.
The intros seem like counterpoint, not gimmicky, like the scratching at the beginning of the
title song. The lyrics are biting, the melodies enveloping. And the songs are about stuff.
You know I would live my life
They sound personal. And enjoyable. "Sunday Morning After" sounds
like an entry from Macy Gray's diary. Or these great lines from "Marry Me:"
I would have rhymed with something else. Maybe I am predictable. Everybody's Got A Story is a treat, a great follow-up to Tuesday's Child [reviewed directly below].
If Amanda keeps getting better, I'll have to write her a letter. Dear Amanda, thank you for another remarkable album I can listen to for the rest of my life. You're beautiful.
Tuesday's ChildAfter Amanda's 1995 eponymous album, there was a long gap with nothing of hers seen. So is her new work fresh and different or a music-by-numbers duplicate?
It is different. If you were expecting more of the same, you will be disappointed. But it's really good, one might say worth the wait.
One pitfall Amanda avoids is having all the songs on Tuesday's Child [Epic, 1999, digitally mixed, 13; 61:30] sound similar. Producer Don Was assembled a talented group of musicians and her songs, mostly co-written with Eric Bazilian, are excellent and varied, with surprising arrangements.
The band features Mark Goldenberg on guitars, percussionist Paulina DaCosta, drummer Steve Jordan. Carole King assists on a song she co-wrote, "Right Here All Along." Plus Benmont Trench and Waddy Wachtel on select cuts.
The sentiments are worthwhile. "Shades of Grey" is clever without being cloying. "Never Said Goodbye" is excellent ("...all the pieces of what used to be have scattered / And all the little things / That used to mean so much / I look around me now and see that they don't matter.") and the music is great, featuring Mark Isham on trumpet.
Several of the songs seem catchy like my pick, "Too Little, Too Late," with lyrics that are never clichéd. As the difference "In matters of emotion / ... I need to feel you need me / Like a river needs an ocean."
Amanda's voice is priceless.
The booklet is terrific, which I mention because CD packaging is criticised by cretins bemoaning the loss of vinyl records. It has new photos and all the information in easy-to-read print.
The more I listen, the more I enjoy Tuesday's Child. Another Canadian artist, Amanda Marshall, triumphs. Get it.