Clare Maguire review

Disappointing debut from the hotly-tipped English songstress

Light After Dark
2/5

Tipped by the Brits, MTV, the BBC and courted by Jay-Z and Rick Rubin, this Birmingham-born belter was the artist most likely to ‘do a Florence’. While the 23-year-old’s profoundly powerful pipes are indisputable, unfortunately her debut album is overblown and overproduced.

Maguire’s best effort – an early MySpace demo of ‘Strangest Thing’ written by the underrated Primary 1 – is not included here. Unadorned, bar a dusky piano line, Maguire enthrals. But with the help of current writing cohort Frazer T Smith (Taio Cruz, Tinchy Stryder) it sounds like Maguire’s permanently strapped to the bow of galleon while gale-force winds whip around her. The heavy-handed use of pianos, strings and galloping drums along with her Annie Lennox-meets-Stevie Nicks dramatics makes for an exhausting listen, particularly on ‘Happiest Pretenders’ and ‘Break These Chains’. Even the Celtic-tinged closer ‘This Is Not the End’ comes off as the portentous soundtrack to a telenovella season finale in which an airborne toxic event wiped out the entire cast. There are moments of lightness (‘I Surrender’), but Maguire’s talent is too trussed up to make a heartfelt impact.

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