Discovering Amy Macdonald
December 27, 2018
I first learned about Amy Macdonald in Denmark in 2012. I walked into a music store with my parents and sisters and saw a large poster on the back wall promoting her album Life in a Beautiful Light. I had never heard of her before, but since I stopped listening to music radio stations in the mid-aughts, that didn’t mean much. She could easily have been popular in America and I just didn’t know it. Still, that poster stuck in my mind.
When we returned to the United States, I wanted some new music and decided to look up Amy Macdonald. I discovered that she is a Scottish musician. At the time, Life in a Beautiful Light was her newest release and her third album. I listened to some snippets and liked what I heard enough to buy it. I loved the album and, soon, I was listening to it over and over again. Her music wasn’t like anything else I had ever heard, and I still haven’t found someone who quite compares with her. Perhaps it’s in the way I listen. Her sound is not quite pop, not quite traditional rock, not quite folk, not quite alternative. Pandora’s Amy Macdonald station groups her with KT Tunstall, but she’s not really similar, either. Amy’s music is more upbeat, more sincere, more unique.
One thing that makes Amy Macdonald different from other artists is how well her personality comes out in her music. There’s a refreshing genuineness to Amy that I admire. She respects her fans and she respects herself. Of the few celebrities I follow on social media, she is my favorite. Amy Macdonald reminds me of some of my best friends—authentic people who cannot tolerate fakeness.
Afraid I would get tired of her if I only had the one album, I also bought This Is the Life and A Curious Thing. I can honestly say there isn’t a song I won’t listen to. Spending one and a half to two hours a day in my car commuting to work, I listened to these albums many times, learning the words, singing along, building a connection. I love the poetry of “Run,” the playful sound of “Love Love,” the way “Life in a Beautiful Light” captures the feeling of falling in love. (Incidentally, “Life in a Beautiful Light” is the song my husband and I chose as ours when we started dating.) In recent years, Amy has also released another album of new music—Under Stars—and a “greatest hits” album called Woman of the World.
I don’t have a favorite song because it changes frequently with my mood and the current events in my life. I think most people are too multi-dimensional to every really pick a favorite in anything, anyway. It’s even difficult to make a list of the best songs because each song is memorable in its own way. Amy touches on the political while revealing her optimism about the Arab Spring through “Across the Nile,” while “The Green and the Blue” shows us her passion for football (soccer) and the emotional dilemma caused by the great Glaswegian rivalry. We see her views of celebrity in “This Pretty Face,” “Footballer’s Wife,” and “The Game.” Whatever she sings about, the subject, lyrics, and tone are relatable.
My passion for Amy Macdonald’s music creates a conflict for me. Because it turned out that she’s more popular in Europe than in America, I consider her music my music—music that sets me apart from others. But I also love it too much to keep it to myself. Yet if others learn to love it as much as I do, it’s no longer mine and mine alone. I hear my children singing along with Amy, though, or listen to my husband excitedly tell me about a new song, and I don’t mind sharing. I don’t think Amy would appreciate my being a snob about my admiration, anyway. As a single woman, I recommended Amy Macdonald to a few men that I dated and Brett was the only one who really gave her a chance, which was one way I knew he was the man for me. She has become a family favorite, from me to my husband to our children. Now, I’m ready to share her with my friends and family, too—and the rest of the world, if they will listen.