Reviews taken from various Internet sources

Amanda Marshall

(by Bob Gajarsky) Several years ago, there wouldn't have been a place for an Amanda Marshall in the pages of a 'zine such as Consumable. The top 40 market would have absorbed her whole and spat her back out to the public. However, with "top 40" becoming a retirement home for the crossover R&B music, a whole new genre of music developed - adult alternative. And that's where Marshall's eponymously titled debut perfectly fits.

This 23 year old Canadian singer has already wowed audiences when opening for Jeff Healey and Tom Cochrane and is currently opening for Tears for Fears. Imagine Amy Grant completely losing her Christian roots and gaining just a touch of rock and soul along the way, a la Melissa Etheridge, and you'll have a good idea of how Amanda Marshall sounds. The first single, "Birmingham", is already garnering huge radio requests; this reviewer suspects that "Fall From Grace" and "Let It Rain", with their similar bluesy/adult alternative sound, will follow a similar course.

A powerful backup group, including music veterans such as Kenny Aronoff and T-Bone Wolk, perfectly let Marshall's voice carry the album. Her raspy, soulful voice is clearly the most valuable instrument in the repertoire, and Ms. Marshall utilizes it to its fullest.

The only critical complaint with Amanda Marshall is the songwriting; Marshall only wrote or co-wrote three of the songs, and the others sometimes fall short of providing the vehicle to launch Amanda into superstardom. The songs are *good* - but only because of the woman singing them; subsequent followups should bring in a bevy of talented songwriters wishing to be associated with Marshall. Amanda Marshall is indeed a strong debut for a talented vocalist.

Tuesday's Child

After Amanda's 1995 eponymous album, there was a long gap with nothing of hers seen. So is her new work fresh and different or a music-by-numbers duplicate? It is different. If you were expecting more of the same, you will be disappointed. But it's really good, one might say worth the wait.

One pitfall Amanda avoids is having all the songs on Tuesday's Child sound similar. Producer Don Was assembled a talented group of musicians and her songs, mostly co-written with Eric Bazilian, are excellent and varied, with surprising arrangements.
The band features Mark Goldenberg on guitars, percussionist Paulina DaCosta, drummer Steve Jordan. Carole King assists on a song she co-wrote, "Right Here All Along." Plus Benmont Trench and Waddy Wachtel on select cuts.

The sentiments are worthwhile. "Shades of Grey" is clever without being cloying. "Never Said Goodbye" is excellent ("...all the pieces of what used to be have scattered / And all the little things / That used to mean so much / I look around me now and see that they don't matter.") and the music is great, featuring Mark Isham on trumpet.
Several of the songs seem catchy like my pick, "Too Little, Too Late," with lyrics that are never clichéd. As the difference "In matters of emotion / ... I need to feel you need me / Like a river needs an ocean."

Amanda's voice is priceless. Strangely, on Tuesday's she sounds closer to Alannah Myles than on her last album, produced by long-time Alannah collaborator David Tyson. (Close your eyes and play "Best of Me.") Amanda's voice is distinctive, without Alannah's rough edge though, frankly, the similarity is fine with me.
The booklet is terrific, which I mention because CD packaging is criticised by cretins bemoaning the loss of vinyl records. It has new photos and all the information in easy-to-read print.

The more I listen, the more I enjoy Tuesday's Child. Another Canadian artist, Amanda Marshall, triumphs. Get it

Everybody's Got A Story

(The Montreal Gazette) Everybody's got a story, and here's Amanda Marshall's: she has a sense of humour. Marshall's 1996 self-titled debut and its 1999 follow-up, Tuesday's Child, crowned the Toronto singer heir to the Canadian pop'n'soul throne abdicated by Alannah Myles, and yielded a total of 10 hits. But those albums weren't exactly a barrel of laughs. "That ain't the picture, it's just a part," Marshall sings on the title track to her third CD, Everybody's Got a Story, and the point's taken long before Sunday Morning After, a tongue in cheek rocker about a hedonistic night out that never would have been considered for one of her earlier albums.

"I think I'm probably perceived - and rightly so, based on the work I've done - as a little more serious than I really am, and perhaps not as aware of my surroundings as I really am," Marshall said during a promotional stop in Montreal last week. Any perceptions of Marshall as solemn are wiped out when sitting two feet from the singer, who gesticulates wildly to emphasize her points and has a cheshire-cat grin glued to her face. To call Marshall extroversion personified would be painting her with the same broad strokes some critics have used to dismiss her as a dour soul-searcher, but the messages of empowerment on Everybody's Got a Story couldn't come from a shrinking violet. The lyric "lift the veil and let your true self breathe" is scribbled prominently in the liner notes as if it was a mantra for the recording sessions.

"I think it's up to you as the artist (to decide) how much you want to be open with people and how much you want to talk about (personal) stuff. I've always been a little bit leery of that, mainly because I am by nature a fairly private person and I think if you want to keep a portion of your life private, shut up and don't talk about it. ... I think, though, that I've become a lot less uptight over the years."

Marshall is too self-assured to let it be a cross to bear, but a tiny bit of that former uptightness might stem from the cynical reaction to her rapid success. Marshall's debut is one of a handful of Canadian albums to sell more than one million copies at home, and many viewed the good fortune of a teenage barroom belter discovered by Jeff Healey and taken under the wing of Sony Music with a little suspicion.

"I got a really big break," said Marshall, 29. "I'm a regular girl who has gotten the opportunity to do some really extraordinary things with this short time that I've been on the planet. I think that that probably figures into a lot of those (critical) preconceptions, and I would probably think that, too. When you stack the will and perceived intelligence of a 19- or 20-year-old against that of a corporation, it's easy to think that there's an imbalance in the power structure or that I'm making certain types of records because people are telling me to. But it's the music business - you do the best that you can. On the first record I was happy to be guided, because that's what you do when you don't know - you ask questions." Marshall has gone from three writing credits on her first album to having a role in the creation of every song on Everybody's Got a Story. It's also Marshall's most contemporary-sounding album - odd, since it was produced by Peter Asher and Billy Mann, whose resumés include work with James Taylor and Art Garfunkel. Whatever that recipe lacks in modernity was complemented by contributions from Bronx DJ Molecules.

"I wanted to make a record that people who use loops and beats (regularly) could listen to and feel like even if they weren't getting the whole full DMX picture, at least the kick drum was right," Marshall said with a laugh.

"I wanted to use fresh stuff and start from scratch, so we got Molecules. (Molecules) is the guy who sits in his basement with gear and he doesn't know the names of his stuff, but he knows when it (sounds) right."