What a pleasant surprise this album is! Isobel Campbell’s two previous solo outings had been sweet and delicate to a fault, too precious to be enjoyed on any sort of regular basis. Amorino finds Campbell adding quite a bit of musical heft -• mainly in the form of orchestral ’60s pop — to her innate twee sensibilities. Drawing from such luminaries as Bacharach, Gainesbourg and Morricone, Campbell floods nearly every song with as much instrumentation as time will allow, without making them feel cramped.
Campbell even takes on genres previously foreign to her: the jazzy update of the theme to Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on “October Sky” (replete with rapid fire male/female “bah-bahs”), the surprisingly authentic and catchy ragtime of “The Cat’s Pyjamas” and the sweeping expanse of the melodica/acoustic guitar/bass instrumental workout of “Why Does My Head Hurt So?” The most impressive thing about songs of such disparity is that they are sequenced one after another and still flow perfectly.
If Dear Catastrophe Waitress is Belle & Sebastian’s post-Campbell return to form, Amorino establishes her as a contender to the throne of Scottish pop. More important, it’s her first true declaration that she can write beautiful music very much in the same vein as her former band, but distinctly her own, and without Stuart Murdoch lending a guiding hand. It’s quite a heady and enjoyable accomplishment.
Instinct Records: http://www.instinctrecords.com/