“Amanda Mair,” Amanda Mair (Labrador)
Swedish teenager Amanda Mair has the voice of an angel on her self-titled debut. And that’s appropriate, because production-wise and lyric-wise, she often seems lost in the clouds.
Nevertheless, most listeners will want to be up there with her while she sorts out her issues.
“Amanda Mair” is a distinctive, if flawed, introduction to a peculiar and talented singer. It’s a pop release, though more of the eccentric kind than the mainstream variety.
Those who like quirky-girl vocalists will delight in her insecurities as she works herself into a neurotic frenzy on “Doubt” (“Will love destroy me?”), connect to her obsessiveness in the foreboding tension of “House” (“Can’t you see I’m only happy when you’re in the house?”) and ponder her nervous energy on “Skinnarviksberget,” where she initially beckons with “a bottle of wine and a secret” to share, and eventually gets around to the stalker-ish question, “Would you kiss me and spoon me the rest of my life?”
Mair is a curious mix, her thinking sometimes reflects that of an idealistic, lovelorn juvenile who could use maturing while her voice and melodies are otherworldly, made all the more ethereal encased in echoing effects.
As a result, the songs sound naive with their wide-eyed themes, yet also important, including the delicate ballads as well as those that feature big-beat treatments and Mair’s own pounding keyboards. Meanwhile, her plaintive vocals convey ache that will resonate with those who are far beyond her years.
The foggy production could use some cleaning up, however. Mair is too frequently embedded in a studio funhouse, creating a clamoring and disjointed feel to “Amanda Mair” that would have been more effective if limited to just a few cuts.
Still, it beats formula.
Rating (five possible): 3-1/2