Heavy Lifting

Amanda Marshall

Metatune, 2023


REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


It has been 23 years since Amanda Marshall put out a new album.

Think about that for a moment. The last time she released any music (2001’s Everybody’s Got A Story) Train’s “Drops of Jupiter” was #1. It was the year defined by 9/11. The first Harry Potter movie was the #1 movie of the year.

So what the hell took so long?

Well, there was a long-standing legal entanglement with a former manager. As Marshall herself put it once that was over, “No one was waiting for this album.” She took the time to be creative and really get to what she wanted to say, because no one was standing over her demanding the product; she was lucky enough to be able to get by on the royalties from her three Canadian mega-hit albums.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Heavy Lifting, therefore, is a work coming from an older, wiser artist. Much of it is also laden—dare I say drenched—with a much funkier feel, almost dabbling in the late 1970s Philadelphia sound. I dare anyone who listens to “I’m Not Drunk,” with its lush, jamming horns, not to at least tap their feet while laughing (funky AND funny is the order of the day).

The interesting thing, however, is this: Amanda Marshall has always had a decent amount of social consciousness, willing to talk musically about growing up mixed-race in Canada and about domestic abuse. On Heavy, we are past “decent amount” and into “scathingly pissed off”—which is, for me, pretty damn satisfying.

The aforementioned “I’m Not Drunk” does have some satisfyingly funny lines in it—but also has some painful examination about losing love and trying to pretend nothing’s wrong. “Rainbows And Gasoline” is a musical photograph of the moment where someone wades out of the gaslighting and realizes that yes, they are being abused—and “I Built This House” and “Serves You Right” takes the story further into freedom and beyond.

“Halfway Love” lets Marshall show off her rock and roll chops to good result. “Special” seems to be a direct shot at her ex-manager and men like him, with a cautionary tale against “talent agents” and their ilk.

There are a couple of tracks that are less than stellar, however. Interestingly enough, it’s the first track—“I Hope She Cheats”—and the last, “Honest.” The energy seems lower; it’s as if somehow she couldn’t muster the anger and power present in the rest of the album.

I could say something pithy and wise here, but I’ll settle on this: damn, I’m glad Amanda Marshall is back.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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