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Album Review

Thanks to Paula Cole's appearance on the first Lilith Fair and "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?," This Fire didn't really take off until nearly a year after its 1996 release; plus, its closer "I Don't Want to Wait" became nearly omnipresent in 1998. So, the gap between This Fire and its sequel, Amen, didn't feel all that long, but a cursory listen to Amen reveals that Cole matured considerably during those three years. Amen is the work of a professional record-maker, someone who not only knows how to craft a song, but knows how to craft sound. It's certainly in the same vein as This Fire, yet tighter and subtler, and fits right into adult alternative pop radio circa 1999. She may tread uncomfortably close to the smooth, sweetly cloying pop of Sarah McLachlan, but Cole somehow became convinced that she was a soul singer. So, the pretty music is underpinned with light hip-hop rhythms or R&B chord progressions, while she pours out passion through her voice and lyrics. She may get carried away with self-righteous naïveté and clichéd liberal dogma, but such impassioned beliefs give Amen greater weight, grit, and character than the average adult alternative pop album. Also, she saves most of her lyrical excess through strong, assured singing that's soulful but not overdone (the exception is when she dips into rap on "Rhythm of Life," which is positively embarrassing, especially when she's supported by scratching). Despite the occasional sophomoric lyric, Cole never sounds as strident as she occasionally did on This Fire, and the entire album is clearly the work of an artist who is more assured than ever before. Musically, that results in a stronger album than its predecessor, even if it lacks singles as grabbing or memorable as "Cowboys" or "Wait."

Customer Reviews

Cole Matures and Shines

On her follow up to "This Fire" Paula Cole keeps her magic and passion and changes her sound a little. There are quite a few highlights on this album. The opener, "I Believe In Love" is a wonderfully uplifting song with a great energetic sound. "Amen" is a politically charged song about subjects as varied as Ronald Reagan and Marilyn Manson, but does list things off in a very "Thank You/Alanis Morrisette" sort of way. The tow songs I would like to stress here are "Pearl" and "Be Somebody". "Pearl" is a truly beautiful song about coming in to your own and facing challenge and coming out the other side a better person. "Be Somebody" is a sad song about broken spirits and fighting to make a difference. Paula's voice is still amazing and stands out from many of her contemporaries. This album was very underrated.


I absolutely love this CD... I can't say enough good things about it so I'll just say I HIGHLY recommend it. Also, the song "Be Somebody" was on an episode of Charmed in May of 2000. It's amazing that it took 6 years for it to show up on a Paula Cole album. Does anyone know if it was on a previous CD that I just can't locate?

Liked it Just as much as 'This Fire'

Wish it had more then 9 songs. I could have sat through another 9!! She is sooo amazing, both vocally & lyrically. Although this is a little more religious of an album, it's still beautiful songs and great lyrics. Paula has that voice then you when you hear her, you stop and listen it's an automatic reaction.


Born: April 5, 1968 in Rockport, MA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Paula Cole was one of the many female singer/songwriters who rose to prominence in the mid-'90s in the wake of alternative's commercial breakthrough. Drawing heavily from the ethereal, pretty sound of Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos, she created songs that relied equally on dreamy melodies and poetic, introspective lyrics. Although she continued recording music during the 2000s, Cole's career reached its peak in 1997, when both "I Don't Want to Wait" and "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone" cracked the...
Full Bio
Amen, Paula Cole
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Customer Ratings

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