Image © Arista Records 2002
In the wake of Michelle Branch comes another teenage "rock chick"
Avril Lavigne. This 17-year old was discovered in Canada and
brought to New York City to develop her song-writing with a
variety of collaborators, including The Matrix, a production
team involving talented Lauren Christy. Her album is entitled
Let Go (Arista (USA) 07822-14740-2, 2002) and it has been
a big success in the USA, and I have to say that despite major
label influence and a considerable amount of outside assistance,
there is no doubt that she is a major talent.
This really is pop-rock of the highest order. Though there is
nothing particularly new or innovative here, it is almost amazing
how someone so youthful could possibly have written such a consistent
and tuneful album. Avril's image is somewhat grungy - a tomboy w
ith more than a hit of femininity - though suggestions of sexuality
have wisely been repressed and her lyrics reflect this detailing
relatively straightforward teen angst issues, albeit with a sense
of humour. Her voice, too, is interesting, youthful yet powerful,
and bodes well for live performance.
However, it is the composition and execution of the songs that is so
impressive. She has built a core of impressive young musicians around
her, and despite the many other collaborators, there is a real feeling
of continuity throughout the album. "Losing Grip" is very much a
statement of intent for the whole CD - a brooding Alanis
Morrisette-style verse leads into a crushing, guitar driven chorus
(though the ultra-trendy turntable-scratching is a little superfluous),
while the splendid US hit single "Complicated" returns the album to pop
"Sk8er Boi", meanwhile is a wonderful post-punk rock anthem, contrasting
interestingly with the next song, the violin-dominated ballad "I'm with you."
"Mobile" continues the pop-rock theme, with a quirky verse giving way to another
terrific chorus. "Unwanted" is rather more dramatic, the brooding acoustic
guitar of the verse building tension before the metallic release of the chorus.
"Tomorrow" is another sweet ballad, while the lyrically strong "Anything But
Ordinary" chugs along pleasantly and has another excellent chorus, as do
"Things I'll never say" and "My World." "Nobody's Fool" is another obvious
single, and features Avril's white rap leading to a splendid sung chorus.
The album finishes on two slower songs "Too Much to Ask" and "Naked".
To borrow the Sum 41 album title, this is very much "All killer, no filler",
great song following great song, to the extent that even the album's weaker
pieces would stand out as classics on lesser artist's albums. Wildly e
ntertaining and not without passion, this is a remarkable debut from a
considerable talent.--Stephen Lambe
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Recommended to readers by female vocals fans in the United States and England,
Avril Lavigne's new album Let Go is a very nice listen!