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Natalie Imbruglia - 'White Lilies Island'
(Monday November 5, 2001 11:40 AM )

Released on 05/11/2001
Label: BMG

Some artists are lucky to enjoy one career-defining hit that transcends all boundaries, besieges the radio for months and becomes engraved on everyone's consciousness whether they like it or not. 'Torn' was one such freak smash but even the main beneficiary herself is realistic enough to quell talk of repeating the act.

In the sleeve notes, Imbruglia writes "It took me a while but I got there in the end" and if rumours are to believed and lyrics deciphered, it's been an eventful four years for the former Aussie soap star. Safely out the other side, she's delivered a laboriously conceived second album, 'White Lilies Island' (named after her Windsor home). It's an album which can't possibly replicate the success of it's predecessor but is, in fact, a surprisingly superior effort than the patchy 'Left Of The Middle' debut.

'White Lilies Island' sees Imbruglia free herself from the Alanis Morissette-clone image that you sense was very much forced last time around and actually manage to carve out an identity, both in her vocals and as a personality. She's no longer the dough-eyed beauty who graduated from passive lunchtime viewing to primetime evening leering. On 'White Lilies Island', Imbruglia has found her feet and matured almost beyond recognition.

While labelling her a 'serious artist' is probably a trifle ambitious, she's certainly on the way to achieving her goal. She chips in a hefty wedge of the lyric sheet to the album in the shape of confessional lovesick outpourings that, despite lapses, bind the gutsy album cohesively giving it sophistication, direction and genuine feeling.

The guitar-based power-ballad formula has been enhanced ('Do You Love?', 'Butterflies') and the first single 'That Day', 'Satellite' and 'Wrong Impression' are among the breeziest pop songs you're likely to hear all year. Aside from the largely expected, there's much more to saviour here: from the Garbage-esque 'Sunlight' to the chilled 'Talk In Tongues' and the rousing 'Come September' all of which fight it out for the best vocal performance. Heavily influenced by The Sundays with an alarming nod towards Corrs territory the music is risk-free but far from bland, adhering to old-fashioned rules of melody and tempo.

Pulling the strings suits Imbruglia and by grasping this responsibility with both hands she may just have salvaged her career. All hail the Dido from Down Under.

    by Chris Heath

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