The poppy talents of Nathan Larson meet the low key glory of Angela McCluskey's vocals. Nathan Larson tends to the synthesised and cheesy end of the popular music spectrum. He's good at writing catchy songs, but he's far from memorable.
Angela McCluskey (ex of a fairly obscure Irish-American band called The Wild Colonials) has a unique voice, and demonstrated a talent for milking subtlety and emotions from what are really pretty Plain Jane songs.
But put Larson and McCluskey together, and it's astounding: suddenly you have memorable pop with real depth.
From melodies so obvious that you wonder why you didn't write them yourself, years ago, McCluskey takes surprise turns that wake feelings you just can't shake. After words so worn they are pop cliches, an astonishingly fresh phrase bathes everything that came before it in an unforgettable glow. "Crossing your heart and hope to die / The skin I'm touching will never lie" she says in the enraptured romantic reverie of the opening track.
Though McCluskey's voice is unusual - delicate and powerful, like a rock flavoured, high pitched, subtle Tracy Chapman meets Macy Gray - it's not some kind gimmick that wears thin after six tracks. The more you hear this woman sing, the more you'll want to.
From love to loss, the album leads you by the ear. From falling in love, it darkens relentlessly to bring the terrible twins of compromise and heartbreak together for a tragic embrace. "I'm disappearing / Could we dream much longer?"
Inspiring, blissful and sometimes painful, The Things We Do is as sad as it is wonderful.
- Jean BarkerWHAT OTHER CRITICS SAID
Angela McCluskey has a luxurious, pliant voice reminiscent of Beth Orton, Cyndi Lauper, and even Billie Holiday. Thanks largely to producer/multi-instrumentalist Nathan Larson from Shudder to Think, the debut from this Scottish singer-songwriter and former Wild Colonials vocalist is a sumptuous and diverse pop-soul album. - Mike McGonigal for Amazon.com
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