Amanda Marshall

Amanda Marshall

Epic Records, 1996

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Running this site has proven to be a strain between Mrs. Thelen and myself, though in a way I never expected.

You see, my wife thinks my taste in music is "questionable," and she considers most of the treasures in the Pierce Memorial Archives (we're smashing our collector's edition of "Go Cubs Go") to be shit. "You've reviewed all this other crap I wouldn't listen to," she whined at me. "Will you let me pick an album for you to review?"

She selected the debut effort from Amanda Marshall, a popular work on adult contemporary stations. And after two listens to the tape... do I really have to say this? (Sigh...) Well, she has selected an album that is quite enjoyable.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The Trinidad native has had some success outside of her adopted home country of Canada with the song "Birmingham" (gee, to think I thought she was from England), but the strengths on this one lie past the radio-friendly numbers.

The first thing that strikes you about Marshall is that she has an incredible set of pipes, though they seem to be more adept at the bluesy ballads than the all-out rockers. Sure, "Fall From Grace" is a good song. But when you listen to "Beautiful Goodbye," you know this young lady can send shivers down your spinal cord.

Amanda Marshall seems to be evenly divided between up-tempo rock-style numbers and more introspective works. So which camp is she better at? That is a matter of personal taste - my wife thought the second half of the album was "too slow," while I preferred Marshall in that style of music.

"Birmingham," the song most people know, tells the story of a woman who breaks out of a prison of dealing with an alcoholic husband to rediscover herself: "She's never been so all alone / She's never felt so free." While I would have preferred a little more guitar on this one, it is a good song nonetheless.

However, I found it difficult to try to find messages in many of the songs on Amanda Marshall, choosing instead to focus on the power of the performances. From happy sounding numbers like "Sitting On Top Of The World" to moody relationship songs like "Last Exit To Eden" and "Dark Horse," Marshall successfully maintains the energy level throughout it all. The only real negative is that Marshall chooses to go with outside songwriters most of the time; she only wrote one song, and collaborated on two others out of the ten on the album.

Adult contemporary is one of the most difficult genres to master, but Amanda Marshall seems well on her way to doing so at the age of 23. Imagine what she'll be capable of in the years to come.

It's scary when the wife and I agree on an album such as Amanda Marshall, though I'm enough of a man to admit I could learn from my wife's musical tastes. Now if only I could get her to plow through my Frank Zappa catalog...

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.