The debut album from Scottish singer/songwriter Amy Macdonald, This Is the Life achieved a remarkable feat -- it entered the charts at number two. Macdonald admits that the song "Poison Prince," which received a limited release as a single, is based on the life of Babyshambles/Libertines singer Pete Doherty, but the first nationally released single "Mr. Rock & Roll" has nothing whatever to do with him. With a finger on the pulse of news items of 2007, she fills "Footballer's Wife" with observations on WAG (wives and girlfriends) culture, in which female spouses are famous for nothing much more than their celebrity partners, and uses the title track "This Is the Life" to reflect upon the lifestyle she had always envied since the early days of practicing her guitar and honing her songwriting skills. Meanwhile, "Let's Start a Band" is exactly what it looks like: a song about being successful in the fickle career of pop music, a theme that is further developed on the song "Barrowland Ballroom," named after a venue in Glasgow that many an aspiring artist wishes to play. Macdonald captures the feelings of ordinary people in the crowd wishing that something exciting would happen in their lives ("I wish I saw Bowie playing on that stage"). There is a nostalgic feel to the album, which conjures up vocal images of Kirsty MacColl and vintage coffeehouse folk singers, and even the cover art evokes the '70s with its frayed edges and warm, lived-in appearance.
AllMusic Review by Sharon Mawer