Four albums in and the time was right for Emily Maguire to drag in the big guns to polish up her sound and, with the redoubtable Nigel Butler behind the desk, the result was always going to be professional. That, however, does not detract from what has always been Ms Maguire’s strong point for, despite the proper and elegant construction of the songs on this album, her lyrics are always very personal and never seem the work of a doing it for the money wordsmith.
The fragility of the opening song “Beautiful” is a case in point. The arrangement is elegant and easy on the ear yet the feel is still natural and affecting. You feel – there’s that word used twice in the same paragraph – that Ms Maguire is speaking straight from the heart. Talking of heart, “Don’t Speak” confirms the presence of an artist who isn’t afraid to wear said heart on her sleeve.
It isn’t all soul searching though as “Bicycle Made For Two” displays a certain playfulness as if Ms Maguire had reached back into Melanie’s back catalogue for inspiration. A song like this, even though some may see it as a mere throwaway, will likely be the hook that gets you to play the rest of the album and, if that doesn’t work, then the Fiona Apple style “A Rose Is Nothing” is waiting to further entrap your attention.
Full marks to Nigel Butler for managing to put a shine on Emily Maguire’s sound without losing the essence of what her special. She has always been a serious songwriter but this time around there are enough songs to catch the attention of the casual listener and cause them to ponder her deeper, darker songs. A job well done, I would say.