Amy Macdonald — Life in a Beautiful Light
Following the staggering success of 2007 abum This Is The Life, Amy Macdonald had only two avenues to explore: appease the masses and smooth out her eclectic edges, or sharpen them to more impressive extremes. Life in a Beautiful Light achieves both. It is a strong return from Macdonald, interweaving her distinctive voice with splashing cymbals and burbling electronica, but still intermittently flirting with folky affectations. It veers more wildly from the typical light-hearted nature of Macdonald’s earlier records.
Opening track 4th of July is a sublime starting point. Built on a foundation of droning horns, guitars and drums, it creates textures that offset the minimalism of the compostion. It forms a thrilling synthesis of concert hall and club, blending cool modern riffs with a classical richness, showcasing a vigourous energy from the generation of sounds.
The furious pumelling insistence of The Game mixes honest-to-goodness eccentricity with a grungy undercurrent. It’s a perpetually building, swirling vortex of sound, married to the prescient and urgent lyrics. Whirring crescendos and primal rhythms create a track of motion and intensity, but largely results in The Game sounding awkward and confused and after a while, bewildering.
The Days Of Being Young & Free takes a more organised approach. Decorated with soaring dynamics and a beautiful vocal performance, it’s a genuine uplifting-mood piece full of spirit and sound. It’s a track that best displays Macdonald’s flair for original ideas.
Delicate vocal melodies weave around finger-picked guitars. Two Worlds brings the 13-track album to a close. With thoughtful lyrics teamed with tales of snatched moments, it proves to be a dramatic and skilful ending to a sometimes sweeping yet sometimes angular album.
Life in a Beautiful Light is looser and darker than previous affairs, and it may be Macdonald’s most recognised effort yet.
Standout track – 4th of July
Life in a Beautiful Light is released by Vertigo on 11th June 2012.
Watch the video for 4th of July here: