Amanda Mair

Amanda Mair

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On her debut self-titled album for Labrador, 17-year-old Amanda Mair had the fortune of working with some of the biggest guns in the Swedish indie pop world. Label head Johan Angergård (of Acid House Kings and Club 8) wrote most of the songs, Philip Ekström (of the Mary Onettes) produced and played most of the instruments, and indie icons Pelle Carlberg and Roger Gunnarsson (who wrote songs for Sally Shapiro) also contributed a song each. They all worked together to build such a strong framework that it would have been almost impossible for Mair to fail. One quick listen is enough to see that she certainly doesn't. Her strong vocals fill the songs with depth and power that seems otherworldly given her age. She transmits the melancholic sadness of the words with a graceful, understated passion and, even more importantly, never oversings and sticks with the melodies at all times. Given the track record of her writers, the melodies are unsurprisingly catchy and many of the songs sound like radio-ready hits on first spin. "Doubt," with its super-hooky and shiny production, is the first pick for a single, but the rest of the album isn't far behind. The pleasing mix of '80s-influenced (the Cure, Kate Bush) pop, classic Swedish indie pop (all the bands led by her collaborators), and modern singer/songwriters (Feist) works to give Mair a unique sound that separates her from the polite mob of 2010s female singer/songwriters who swarm the music biz like piano-playing zombies. Only Carlberg's maudlin "Skinnarviksberget" doesn't work, and that's partly down to the standard piano and vocals production. It's a rare misstep on a well-crafted record that packs quite an emotional punch. Mair was lucky to find herself surrounded by such a talented cast of musicians and writers; it appears she inspired them to do some of their best work. Amanda Mair is a wonderful debut from a truly promising singer.

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