Reviewed by Mike Rimmer
It's been three years since Ms Grant gave us 'House Of Love' and the anticipation surrounding this release has grown with every delay and rescheduled release date. So is all the fuss justified? Well, yes and no. It depends which Amy you like. If you like the poppier Amy of 'Heart In Motion', then this will be premier league disappointment but if you like the introspective grown up Amy of 'Lead Me On/House Of Love' then you'll fall in love with this. The album starts powerfully with the dynamic "Nobody Home", a look over the shoulder at bleak, recession hit small town USA and memories of better times. A stonking song! "I Will Be Your Friend" is a slow swing ballad dedicated to friendship that doesn't quit. "Like I Love You" continues the theme of restoring trust in friendship and will as usual (yawn) prompt questions/rumours about the state of her marriage to Gary Chapman. The first single "Takes A little Time" ups the tempo a bit and is the liveliest song on the album, which gives you an indication of how mellow all of this is; "Baby Baby" it isn't, but the theme of facing pain is a timely encouragement. After a strong start, by now we're into the heart of the album and "Cry A River" is a heartfelt sweet ballad. "Turn This World Around" features some great understated guitar and breathy, misty eyed Amy is again tackling the recurrent theme of this album, facing pain and finding hope in God. She sings "We are all the same it seems behind the eyes, broken promises and dreams and good disguise." All her career she has made a point of being honest in her recordings and that honesty is very evident in this album. Then a "Curious Thing" happens! A disaster of a song! It sounds like Amy has chosen to record one of producer Wayne Kirkpatrick's cast offs that Kim Hill rejected! She even sounds like Kim Hill on this attempt at a Sheryl Crowe feel. Problem is, to carry this off Amy, you've got to have ATTITUDE! She sings it straight and you're left wondering, well. Life is indeed a curious thing! Somebody really should have had a word! "Leave It All Behind" is an acoustic-driven mid tempo piece of pop with some "Lay Lady Lay" organ flavourings. The song offers comfort and a safe place to let go of problems. "Missing You" and "The Feeling Is Hard" are melancholy songs of loss that wind the album towards an extremely downbeat close. In the latter section of the album there are two "road" songs. The first, an easy listening pop tune "Every Road", continues the theme of struggle without apportioning blame and simply recognises that every experience teaches us something. The second closes the album, "Somewhere Down The Road" is a bittersweet ballad looking at disappointment and how it's only when we are wrapped in the "mighty arms" that we'll know all the answers. A fitting close to an album that asks more questions than it provides answers. Perhaps Amy wisely recognises that there are some things in life that are too complex to comprehend this side of eternity. Overall, this is an extremely introspective and vulnerable album, a million miles from the pop star Amy. Age has brought her a dignity and maturity in the songwriting department and success has brought her the opportunity to record material that reflects her desire to address deeper issues. However, at 12 songs length, it gets a little bogged down in the middle and I found myself wishing there were a couple of lighter tunes to lift this set.
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