White Lilies Island
If you scanned the list of tracks on White Lilies Island, or even the title, for that matter, you’d swear that Aussie princess Natalie Imbruglia was one of those so-sweet-it-makes-you-sick optimists. Then, you take a stab at actually hearing the album, and the most innocent-looking titles carry the biggest weapons. In the devastating “Butterflies” (which seems to be about someone being left behind in a relationship), there is a sense of death, rebirth, and acceptance, all of which are not always such happy experiences. The mysterious “Hurricane” (“…It came on like a hurricane/…it picked me like a cherry/…killed me with the craving/…it stripped me ugly naked…”) seems to be more about her whirlwind fame more than an actual person, but regardless, she won’t dissolve speculations because she doesn’t want to spoil what each listener can get from it. The second single (after the Top 40 “Wrong Impression”) is the singing steam of consciousness, “That Day.”
“Beauty on the Fire” seems to speak about most obviously, drinking, but on a deeper level, why someone in Imbruglia’s position would feel the compulsion to “drown [her] soul in sensory pleasure.” While this is not only the shortest song, but also the song that seems to be most definable; it’s also by far the most straightforward and relatable track. Fill in the blank with your own escape, but we’ve all had the wish of “Tonight, could I be lost forever” that echoes so well in “Beauty on the Fire.”
Looking at Imbruglia, she seems doll-like. Perfect. The parts of her whole fit so perfectly together, but she’s living proof of the separation between appearance and inner emotion. She’s not candid about her pessimism, binge drinking, physical insecurity, or the psychological exercises that she didn’t always want to embark on in making her second album. In a slew of recent interviews, she speaks most honestly to Blender. When asked about her third album and the fact that the third album is usually the hardest, she says “If the third one’s that hard… I’m not doing it.” The reason for the struggle with number two was the songwriting more than anything. She wrote the lyrics to every track over a two year hiatus, most of which she spent in her home with her dog. Isolated, which would do anyone in, but just proves how dedicated to her craft Imbruglia is. Overall, the writing is good, especially for a first solo attempt. The emotion and the expressing far exceeds her intentioned writing and in rare moments we see not only Natalie as the girl who sang that song about breaking up, but we see her as Natalie, the girl who sings that song that explains the error of being human. Natalie, the girl who lets us into her world and helps us find our own.
Natalie Imbruglia: http://www.natalie-imbruglia.co.uk