Thursday, 2 April 2009

Amanda Marshall

It seems that I have a natural affinity for Canadian artists. This revelation hit me squarely between the eyes when my iPod shuffle mode brought forth one of my favourite songs, ‘Shades of Grey’ by Canadian singer/songwriter, Amanda Marshall and it got me thinking.

I suppose that my first conscious exposure to Canadian culture was Anne Murray’s ‘Snowbird’ nearly 40 years ago. I remember it clearly because my school-friend, Terry, bought the single and it had an eye-poppingly lurid red and orange label. As an aside, it is such a shame that today’s generation have missed out on proper record labels – they were such fun, and so memorable. Anyway, since then I have followed the careers of Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Martha and the Muffins, Alanis Morissette and latterly, Allison Crowe. And that’s not to mention a passing interest in Shania Twain, Bryan Adams, BTO, Leonard Cohen, Avril Lavigne, Crash Test Dummies and others too numerous to list here. It seems they are everywhere.

But back to Amanda Marshall. ‘Shades of Grey’ is a song I heard playing in a Virgin Megastore (when such things existed) several years ago and liked it enough to buy the album. Written by Marshall and guitarist Eric Basilian, it is a mid-tempo ballad backed by a mildly trip-hop drum pattern and chiming guitar figures and showcases Amanda’s rich contralto. The song itself contains some fascinatingly enigmatic lyrics. Try this, for example:
‘When my grandmother held me for the very first time
She thanked God that I looked like my Daddy
And I never quite knew just what she meant
But I knew she was a little too happy’
Is this autobiographical? Only Amanda knows but it gives the whole song a dark centre hinting at adultery and shogun weddings.

Also of interest is the guitar solo towards the end which owes much to the extensive use of the wah-wah pedal and sounds exactly like the sort of solo you could imagine Jimi Hendrix providing as a ‘guest guitarist’ in his senior years assuming he was still around to do so. Because of this, it has a slightly melancholic feel to it which complements the lyrical sentiments perfectly. The album from which it comes ‘Tuesday’s Child’ is generally very good indeed although, as usual, I have failed to follow this up and buy her more recent releases but then if I did this consistently for all artists I’d be penniless by now. Nevertheless, if they are anything like ‘Tuesday’s Child’, they are probably worth recommending.


Perplexio said...

Amanda Marshall's Tuesday's Child is one of my wife's favorite CDs. I'd never heard of Marhsall until my wife & I started dating.

There is something to be said for Canadian musicians. Some other ones that come to mind are Barenaked Ladies, Gordon Lightfoot, the Tragically Hip, Tea Party, Great Big Sea, Stompin' Tom Connors, and April Wine.

musicobsessive said...

It's true, those Canadians seem to be everywhere and much of what they do is good. I especially like my Amanda Marshall CD and really should look out some of her other stuff.

Adrian said...

The Canadian climate produces good hockey players and good musicians. And potatoes.

Now, you've introduced me to Pan's People, may I return the favour. Perhaps you know this Canuck institution - if not, here's a "hat-trick" from Stompin' Tom Connors: - The Hockey Song ~ Bud the Spud ~ Sudbury Saturday Night

music obsessive said...

Adrian - No, I didn't know about Stompin' Tom, but I do now! A bit of a cross between Johnny Cash and Long John Silver!

And I'm sure there are more where that came from.