This Is the Life

This Is the Life

If her debut album is any indication, 20 year-old Amy Macdonald is an old soul, possibly the reincarnation of a Scottish troubadour. Her husky vocals and traditional folk instincts seem from an earlier time, but her song themes are distinctly contemporary. The thrills and seductions of modern-day show business are very much on her mind, and Macdonald brings a precocious wisdom to tunes like “Poison Prince,” “L.A.,” and “Footballer’s Wife,” estimating the price of success with a wary eye. A brooding restlessness pervades these tracks, whether the lyrics deal with grubby everyday existence (the title tune), the aspirations of the rising generation (“Youth of Today”), or yearning for real love (“A Wish for Something More”). Producer Pete Wilkinson does a commendable job in fleshing out the melodies with Spanish horns (“Let’s Start a Band”), rockabilly rhythms (“Barrowland Ballroom”), and string flourishes (“Footballer’s Wife”). Though she simmers rather than burns as a singer, Macdonald rises to passionate heights in “Run.” This is the Life shows impressive artistic maturity even as it captures the urgency of young adulthood.

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