Amanda Marshall, by Amanda Marshall
During the mid-to-late 1990’s, I used to buy a lot of albums and this was an album I bought on cassette tape on the strength of its moderate hit single “Birmingham.” It had been some time since I had listened to the album, and I listened to it again to reflect upon whether the album still held up to me, since Amanda Marshall never ended up with a huge pop career and none of her songs have had a great deal of nostalgia in the general population. Was the album something I liked at the time or is it something that has stood the test of time and deserves to be better known? Here is a track-by-track review:
Let It Rain: The album begins with a somber and reflective song that reflects on the struggle against darkness in something that has Christian overtones. To some listeners this may not be a good thing, but to me it is a very good thing indeed as it reflects the desire to overcome evil.
Birmingham: This is the album’s big hit single, something that hasn’t really carried on to the age of streaming, where it is the fifth most popular song of the album on Spotify. Still, this is a gorgeous and dark song that reflects on the desire of a battered and abused wife to seek freedom.
Fall From Grace: This song is a mid-tempo acoustic guitar driven number that compares the passion of love to a falling from grace, and the song itself reflects on angels and the feeling of isolation and desiring of a love that seems particularly elusive.
Dark Horse: Another acoustic-guitar driven song, this one reflects on a relationship that has endured despite the criticism that came to it. Despite its general optimism, it has the air of realism about it, and even a hint of bittersweetness, that gives it depth.
Beautiful Goodbye: This melancholy ballad reflects on the downside of love and the regret that follows from broken relationships and the desire to have a second chance without the confidence that it will come to pass. The song also has a pretty driving breakdown as well that adds to the emotional feel of the song.
Sitting On Top Of The World: This song continues on a mode of optimism, albeit cautious optimism, with a lovely guitar part, that expresses that as long as a relationship continues one will be sitting on top of the world, again with the hint of criticism of the relationship from the outside.
Last Exit To Eden: A lovely and melancholy acoustic ballad, this song has more religious overtones, seeming like it is related to Birmingham, and the desire to return to innocence and salvation, with a hint of ominous reflection on the feeling that one has been trapped in darkness.
Trust Me (This Is Love): This song, probably my favorite from the album as a whole, is another song that falls under the cautious optimism about love, looking for the choice of love and intimacy to overcome the temporary difficulties and doubts that one faces in life.
Let’s Get Lost: This is another one of the songs on this album that show a solidarity with a partner despite social disapproval, desiring to leave the judgmental area where they are and move to another place where they can start again.
Promises: This is another one of my favorites on the album, and it comes with a rather melancholy message, reflecting on the broken state of the world and being too young to die and too old to believe in promises, a cynical but by no means inaccurate take on the contemporary world.
Overall, this album definitely holds up for me. While admittedly the subject matter and tone and approach of the album is rather narrow, reflecting love and relationships and feelings of trust or its absence, it happens to strike the precise balance between melancholy and cautious and guarded optimism that I possess as a person, and the album’s blend between piano and guitar-ballads and generally slow to mid-tempo sound is also something that is appealing to me. Not everyone will find this album as appealing as I do, but if you like music that reflects on spiritual themes but does so with a high degree of realism and honest self-examination, this is a great album.