Natalie Imbruglia has identity issues. A former star of the Australian soap opera Neighbours and an overnight success in America with her 1998 radio hit "Torn," the singer-songwriter has returned with a second album that is thoroughly catchy, utterly hummable and impossible to fault except for its lack of any stamp of authorship. Who is this Natalie Imbruglia, really? On the winsome "Wrong Impression," she and her band pull off an uncanny impersonation of the light teatime Anglo-pop of the Sundays, but it may be that Imbruglia just happens to sound a lot like that band's singer, Harriet Wheeler. The rainy-day arrangement and orchestration of "Goodbye" is dreamy and vaguely sad, like the downbeat musings of an otherwise pretty comfortable angel, although the songwriter may have intended the tune as an exhibit of soul-baring, raw introspection. Imbruglia's delicate, sweet and well-behaved singing isn't the ideal vehicle for expressing angst, even if most of these minor-chord, gray-skies
anthems seem to be yearning to do just that. The result is a tune such as "Talk in Tongues," a half-unplugged, vaguely Beatlesque acoustic jam that merely seems bummed. Judging from all the mopey lyrics and bittersweet melodies, the singer meant for the album to be an Affecting Experience. But despite its immaculate odes to unhappiness, White Lilies Island itself is ear candy with about as much emotional resonance as Kathie Lee Gifford's latest televised crying jag.
(RS 892 - March 28, 2002)
(Posted: Feb 28, 2002)