Natalie Imbruglia Pays Tribute To Male Artists In ‘Male’
A few months ago, Natalie Imbruglia announced her first album in six years. Male would be an album of covers, dominated by songs fronted by male musicians. The reason? Imbruglia explained it was “more fun to do songs by male artists.” Also as a factor into recording these classics, she added on that the songs chosen were sentimental in finding life partners.
The album version of “Instant Crush” is more expressive and emotive than the radio edit that premiered. The electric flavor Daft Punk once gave to the song is ditched in favor of a dramatic approach. The folksy “Cannonball” is reinvented as a moving ballad while Josh Pyke’s haunting Simon & Garfunkel quality is lost during “The Summer.” The latter is not a bad thing, reinventing songs is the point of a cover. Imbruglia’s take on Pyke’s 2008 song feels like the beginning of the end for a summer song. Everyone and their mothers has to know Death Cab For Cutie’s “I Will Follow You into the Dark.” More or less, Nat’s cover is the same delicate song and holds the fragility of the original.
Natalie Imbruglia does not have a voice suited for country music, and that is okay. Her cover of “Goodbye In His Eyes” embraces the Zac Brown Band tune as a light pop-folk song. I’ve recently found myself loving The Cure, partly due to Minnie Driver. Imbruglia covered the band in a radical way. “Friday I’m in Love” has turned into a bluegrass song and I have not stopped singing along and having a one-man jamboree. The instrumentation in “Naked as We Came” follows the same route as the original though its two minute length arguably serves for those meditating in the quietness of the wilderness. I love when songs from the 80’s are covered, artists almost always bring the sound into the now with a passion. Such is the case with “Let My Love Open the Door.” The song begins lightheartedly with steady drum beats and ends as joyfully as it began.
“Only Love Can Break Your Heart” is as moody as Neil Young’s 1970 Top 40 hit. One of my favorite moments on the album is celebrated with “I Melt With You.” Though it’s not the bluegrass sound I’d hope for like “Friday I’m In Love,” it’s impressive and has me singing along to one of my favorite hits. “The Waiting” draws upon a blend of folk and bluegrass. Closing off the album is a cover of Cat Stevens‘ “The Wind.” Ending off on this particular song evokes that sense of self-discovery and reflection.
Natalie Imbruglia chose well in honoring male artists. Many of the songs were reinvented in a way that fans of the original can appreciate. The range from indie influence to bluegrass adds to the sentimental beauty behind the album.