If Goldfrapp’s ‘Felt Mountain’ album was fronted by a seductive jazz singer who enjoyed a guitar or two.
Amanda Easton is an artist who swaps genres like hot dinners but between those musical noms, she usually returns to electro-pop. That is true for ‘Wallflower’, the Aussie’s latest album. Straddling chanteuse and the mother of wisdom depending on the song, ‘Wallflower’ is a truly independent release that fans of Goldfrapp and Portishead will enjoy.
When talking about the album, Amanda Easton said that she’d like to go back to her younger self and tell her not to worry – that she’d bloom eventually. It is the opening lyric for the Bond-esque title track that swings its way in early on the album. Its jazz and blues crawl allows Amanda to milk the delivery of every single line. It is something she does throughout the album and it is one of her quirks. She sings overtly expressive like a forbidden femme fatale slinking towards her prey. In the more moody and showy tracks like the title piece, electro-pop anthem ‘Girl in the Song’ and ‘Linea Nigra’ this tact works. In some of the more mainstream standing pieces sometimes it can be distracting.
Referencing Goldfrapp, Portishead and perhaps Mandalay are quite significant because the album borrows bits from each. The trip-hop beats from ‘Walk the Skies’ have a harsh crunch that gives Portishead vibes. When Amanda sings smoothly and most restrained such as the beautiful ‘At the Door’ and ‘Conversation’, she sounds similar to Alison Goldfrapp. Often the synths in use are quite bulbous and chunky whilst being airy and that reminds me of Mandalay. ‘Shadow on the Boulevard’ is a perfect example of where all three collide perfectly. Trip-hop fans unite – this dreamy mix will be for you.
Yet, you can take the girl out of the jazz lounge but you can’t take the jazz lounge out of the girl. Several tracks towards the end are like musical numbers you’d expect in a cabaret turned into a synth-led pop piece. ‘Overcome’, ‘Don’t Forget You Love Me’ and ‘Don’t Even Take Off Your Coat’ all sound like you could switch the instruments out for a big band special. That sensual chanteuse will always be an element of Easton’s work and it’s that jazzy element that makes her work unique. That mash-up of ‘this could be a show tune in a different world’ may put a few off. I think it depends on where you stand on the cheeseometer for a dramatic smoky ballad.
If you are looking for a female Bond character making jazzy trip-hop and downtempo tracks – Amanda Easton has you covered with this album. It may take a few listens to adjust your ears to some of the vocal-heavy production of the first half of the album. Once you do, you’ll be enjoying the melodies and beats like a secret agent of indie music.
Recommended track: Girl in the Song
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