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Isobel Campbell - Amorino
Label: Instinct Records
Release: 2003

The Breeze Whispered Your Name
Monolouge For an Old True Love
October's Sky
The Cat's Pyjamas
Why Does My Head Hurt So?
Johnny Come Home
Poor Butterfly
Love For Tomorrow
There is No Greater Gold
This Land Flows With Milk
Song for Baby
Time is Just the Same
Amorino - Isobel Campbell
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Average Blamo User Rating: (15 votes)

Well, anyone coming into this expecting Bel to sound anything like her former group Belle and Sebastian (who, incidentally also released an excellent album on the same day), is going to be surprised, and in my case, the surprise was pleasant. Amorino, rather than being a chamber pop or twee affiar> Let's not forget Bel's passions for old school Jazz (Ghost of You was all Billie Holiday covers, wasn't it?) This time out, she evokes images of Serge Gainsbourg with a smooth, very french-influenced, beautiful album.

Three of the tracks (October Sky, Why Does My Head Hurt So?, Poor Butterfly) are wistful and/or wispy instrumentals. They're good, but because they're instrumentals, they're the weakest tracks on the record. See the main charm here is Isobel's charming soprano. Her chantuse style of singing is complemented by very jazz percussion, acoustic bass, charming flutes and even a full orchestra most of the way through.

For working in a genre as much as she does here, there's surprising variety among the tracks. The title track is a barely there affair that (except for the french vocal at the end) sounds halfway between the scores for a James Bond flick and The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's followed by The Breeze Whispered Your Name which belongs in a 1960's coctktail bar, little black dress and all. A little later on, The Cat's Pyjamas recalls big band era swing, the aforementioned instrumental Why Does My Head Hurt So Bad? has a country tinge added by a harmonica melody, and the charming Time is Just the Same is probably the closest to Belle and Sebastian this record comes, if that means anything to you.

The lyrics are what you might expect, but that's not a bad thing. Many of the songs revolve around love in all it's forms. Johnny Come Home, obviously calls a love home, There is No Greater Gold chronicles the on and off of a relationship, Song For Baby is a message of hope ("And there are those who'll bring you love sweet love"). The most fascinating turn lyrically as far as I'm concerned, though is Monolouge for An Old True Love, which seems to be almost a counterpoint to Stu Murdoch's B&S song I'm Waking Up to Us (which, I understand was written about his relationship with Bel).

Basically, I'd say that this is a mood peiece for sure, not the kind of thing you can just toss on at any moment. But if you feel like laying back and chilling out, then this meets all the qualifications of a great record: it's catchy, clever and very artsy-cool.

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