Music Review: Amy Diamond, "Still Me Still Now"
by Paul Schultz
Published: July 7, 2006
Fourteen-year-old Swedish teen-pop sensation Amy Diamond has been taking the Northern European music scene by storm for the last year or so following the release of her debut album, This Is Me Now. Streaking to #2 on the Swedish charts, the album featured the #1 hit "What's In It For Me" which in now just hitting the international radar. Her second album, Still Me Still Now (titled, apparently, by a random generator) drops, and if you like bubblegum with your pop, you've come to the right place.
Though born in Sweden of an English father and a Swedish mother, Amy spent over four of her early years in England, which explains how she pulls off her perfect English pronunciations. Without so much as a single singing lesson, Amy developed her distinctive voice that features a hyper-speed vibrato. Her natural gift was recognized early on, and she performed on Swedish TV's "Småstjärnorna" ("Small Stars") in 2000. Since then, she's won practically every ensuing televised talent show she's appeared on.
Don't Cry Your Heart Out
is the first CD single released
from her new album, peaking
at #2 on the Swedish charts.
All the tracks on her new offering were written by Grizzly (Gustav Jonsson), Tommy Tysper, and Mack (Marcus Sepehrmanesh) of Ten Songs/Productions, whose songwriting credits include several songs for the Swedish music group
A*Teens. They had a hand in most of the songs on her debut, so an inherent "sameness" could be expected. Still, the production is distinctive, with the tunes hitting high on the "fun meter". It's over before you know it, however, with the total running time barely creeping past 31 minutes, and the longest tune clocking in at just under 3:30. Perhaps this was intentionally done with attention-deficit youth in mind, but it was often hard to get into a groove when most songs barely approach three minutes long, and habitually feature abrupt endings.
Apparently there's a "Swedish sound" because at varying points
throughout my listening, I detected hints of ABBA
and Ace of Base. The album kicks off with player-piano and buzzy synth on the insistent kid-anthem "Big Guns", complete with Us (young) vs. Them (old) theme: "Here come the big guns/Speaking for all the young ones/They make the world go
round/You better abide just step aside cause/Here come the big guns/The gentlemen with the sharp tongues/Heads high my young allies/Make some noise now/Raise your voice and scream". Current single, "Don't Cry Your Heart Out", is a mid-tempo gem with a syncopated rhythm guitar foundation that has already reached the #2 position on the Swedish charts.
Ironically, I admired the infrequent ballads more than the up-tempo numbers. "All The Money In The World" has great trumpet play between the verses, and though the lyrics might seem corny ("When life hurts you're worth so much more to me/Now I guess the best things in life
are free/All the money in the world, all the money in the world couldn't buy me happiness/I'm happy as it is/If love still counts for something/If love's the greatest gift/Then I'm already, I'm already rich") I was touched by the emotive
delivery. The album's closer, "It Can Only Get Better", is a beautiful ballad with just the right touch of heartache that belies her age.
Amy Diamond, "Still Me Still Now"
01. Big Guns
02. Don't Cry Your Heart Out
03. My Name Is Love
04. That's Life
05. All The Money In The World
06. Don't Lose Any Sleep Over You
08. Life's What You Make It
09. No Regrets
10. It Can Only Get Better
"No Regrets" opened with a sunny, upbeat vibe that was reminiscent of a song I couldn't quite place. That is, until the chorus arrived, and as she was singing "No regrets, everything works out for the best/We'll get it together"
I found myself inadvertently busting in to complete the phrase with the Turtles'
hit "so happy together"! Arranged like a show tune with insistent bass drum beat, "Diamonds" was a nice mix up that unfortunately featured a really
annoying guitar solo that sounded like a cassette tape warping in the heat.
"That's Life" replicates "Welcome to the City" (a #3 hit from her first album) and the rest of the album is pleasant enough, but just "okay".
I must say I enjoyed This Is Me Now more than this collection, though the production values have improved, and Amy's voice has subtly matured so she doesn't sound quite so much like a seven-year-old singing. Her talent is undeniable, with vocals that have their own personality. As she extols, "life's what you make it," and Amy Diamond has carved out an appealing niche outside the realm of her scantily-clad pop peers, with proven success.