Canadian singer/songwriter Amanda Marshall is concerned about the difference between appearance and reality on her third album, Everybody's Got a Story. On the title track, a tired pickup line inspires her to think about what people are really like, as opposed to what they seem to be at first. "Don't assume everything on the surface is what you see," she warns, and then goes on to expand on that theme in the rest of the album's story songs. That might make the collection sound somewhat preachy, but it's apparent as early as that first song that she is talking as much to herself as she is to anyone else. On "Double Agent," she reflects on her mixed heritage; appearing to be white, she is actually a mulatto with a Trinidadian mother and is made uncomfortable by whites who try to act black. On "Red Magic Marker," she complains that her infatuation must be obvious, though the object of her affection is not responding. "Brand New Beau" describes a surprising romantic betrayal in which the singer walks in on her boyfriend and his gay lover. Marshall's outspoken lyrics, sung in a throaty, soulful voice, are supported by an often gimmicky musical bed intended to disguise her basic girl-with-a-guitar persona. If she were just a folky, after all, she wouldn't be on a major label in 2002, and since she is, it's necessary to borrow production tricks from Madonna and Britney Spears to give her a chance at multi-platinum sales. Eight of the 12 tracks are co-credited to the Molecules team that provides drum and percussion programming. If the approach works, maybe her new fans will get a chance to hear the hilarious "Sunday Morning After" and the affecting "Marry Me" later on and realize there's a good songwriter here, too.
AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann