Today’s POP RESCUE from an uncertain fate, is the debut 2003 album False Smiles from British singer songwriter Amy Studt. Is this album Superior, or just a miserable moment? Read on…
I picked up this album having never knowingly heard a single Amy Studt song. Sometimes that’s just how I roll when it comes to a Pop Rescue!
In theory, we should be doing okay though, as whilst Amy has a writer’s credit on all tracks, the writing and production personnel include the heavy weights of Karen Poole, Rob Davis, Cathy Dennis, and Gary Barlow.
However, they were the ones who were also behind the Michelle McManus album… so how will this one play out?
The album opens with what was her first single Just A Little Girl, and it’s a great album opener and a strong debut. No wonder she continued with this album, and released 3 more singles from it. It shows off delicate vocals, her rockier vocals, and easily alternates between he two.
Second track (and single) Misfit, follows, and vocally and musically reminds me of Natalie Imbruglia debut album material. It’s warm, catchy, defiant, and a slick track. I think it would be easy to imagine Amy singing some country music, as this feels like it has that sound woven into it. It definitely feels like Amy’s target audience were teenage girls who were already fans of the music of similar American artists.
Third track Under The Thumb is much more relaxed to start with, but soon joins the previous two tracks with it’s vocal harmonies over a guitar track. This was the third and final single from this version of the album.
If Only is the fourth track, and like the previous track, it starts off gently, but thankfully stays there. This gives Amy the chance to really show off her delicate vocals and vocal harmonies. This is a really nice song.
A nice guitar loop ushers in Beautiful Lie before it heads into a kind of All Saints/S Club 7 territory. There really is little to differentiate between songs – the same guitars, the same tempo, the same approach to vocals (aside from If Only). Next track Ladder In My Tights is no exception to this, although reminds me of Lily Allen at the start, before turning Alanis Morissette.
Carry Me Away is a welcome break – again it’s a mellow track like If Only, and gives Amy’s breathy delicate vocal range time to shine. It’s gentle, there’s no angst vocal harmonies with herself against a growly guitar. It’s just a pretty track.
Rich, lush strings bring in Happy Now, a song without a beat, but plenty of vocal harmonies and piano. The track builds up towards the end, with the strings and synth swelling up.
Next up is Gonna Be Fine, which feels like it’s straight off an X Factor winner album. This song is somewhat nauseating and predictable, and somewhat boring.
That terrible teen woe gets covered next – h8trs – in Superior Mind. Musically, it’s like a spare bit of Misfit or Under The Thumb.
An answer phone message introduces Going Out Of My Mind. The song is carried by some great acoustic guitars, but soon builds up. Actually, this track is pretty okay. It DOES follow the formulaic approach of most of this album, but manages to sound at least a bit fresher.
Next up is Seconds Away and it’s a bit more up-beat, and guitar-lite, which helps it sound more interesting, but this is soon wiped from memory by the Gary Barlow co-written Testify, which again slips you back into the formula.
There’s some really nice songs here, but the album is turned bland by just producing the same sound for each of them, with only a few exceptions (If Only, Carry Me Away, Happy Now). If the album had been trimmed down by 4-5 songs, or had more of a range of songwriters and producers, then the album might have benefitted from a more interesting range of styles.
Amy looks miserable throughout the album artwork, apart from one photo where she’s been photographed dancing in a garden. Nothing like conforming to the miserable teen stereotype. Although, perhaps like Michelle McManus, she was bored with the album by the time it had been completed.
- POP RESCUE 2014 RATING: 2 / 5, just too boring.
- 2003 UK CHART POSITION: #18
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Poundland store.