Album Review: Amy Macdonald – Life In A Beautiful Light

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On the first listen, ‘Life In A Beautiful Light’ isn’t as hook-heavy as the previous records. There are tracks here that take a little more attention in order to extract their charm (‘Human Spirit’, ‘The Game’), but there are a fair few that will leap into your subconscious right away – particularly, the addictive ‘Slow It Down’ and uplifting  ‘4th Of July.

Amy re-approaches one of her favourite subjects in ‘The Game’ – the difficult prospect of fame that comes hand in hand with a successful music career. It doesn’t quite have the same drive as ‘An Ordinary Life’ or ‘Next Big Thing’ from her last album, ‘A Curious Thing’, but the chorus has as much impact as we’ve come to expect from Macdonald.

In some ways, it’s a shame that there aren’t many obvious singles on the record. It’s evident that Amy Macdonald is, first and foremost, an album artist and, aside from the lead single, it’s likely you won’t hear many of the follow-ups without actively searching them out.  ‘Pride’ and ‘4th of July’ seem destined for a radio release and hopefully the title track will join them, but other than that, we have a collection of tunes that are unlikely to draw in many new listeners.

‘The Days of Being Young and Free’ is a charming ode to youth but sounds a little like Texas-lite, ‘Across The Nile’ is a decent track, held up by some incredible verses and treads the Macdonald formula to a tee, omitting only a killer chorus. ‘Human Spirit’ suffers from much of the same problem; typical Amy, but not as addictive or memorable as you might hope.

Yet, driving with the windows open, sun beaming through the window, not many tracks will fit the scene as perfectly as ‘The Green and the Blue’ and looking back on the album, it’ll be difficult to imagine ‘Slow It Down’ and ‘Life In A Beautiful Light’ as anything but on par with her best. The album doesn’t ever tread the line of ‘filler’ and knowing the hardworking Macdonald, no tracks were ever intended to, but some of this material shines out much brighter than the others.

Perhaps poisoned by a desire of wanting something killer to continue her catalogue of flawless releases, some may find that Amy Macdonald has set the bar a little high, even for herself. By no means is ‘Life In A Beautiful Light’ a bad record, but neither is it as phenomenal as her previous albums nor innovative enough to justify that fact.

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Words: Simon McMurdo


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