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Little Steps

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Album Review

Although Merrie Amsterburg has been working as a solo act for some time, you can still tell that she had an earlier career as a band singer because she has developed a mannered singing style that finds her purring and murmuring, rounding her syllables, and slurring in a breathy tone, a style designed to draw attention to itself in competition with a rock band. You can't avoid the comparisons; she sounds like she's listened closely to both Tori Amos' career-long imitation of Kate Bush and Natalie Merchant's career-long imitation of Sandy Denny, taking much of the nasality and throaty moans from the former but singing closer to the register of the latter. The actual timbre of her voice may be nearest to Janis Ian's, but she is also capable of suggesting Rickie Lee Jones, notably on "State Highway 16," which will remind many listeners of Jones' "The Last Chance Texaco." All of this is to suggest that, in the modest folk-rock arrangements of her second album, Little Steps, with not much more to compete with than rhythms that seem to derive from inexpensive synthesizer settings and various restrained guitars, many of which she plays herself, Amsterburg overwhelms the songs with her vocal stylization. It's the sound of her voice that you take away from a listening to this album, much more than an appreciation of the material, even though she has a way with melody and writes touching, poetic lyrics about romantic desire. The record is often attractive, but it is unbalanced; either Amsterburg should get a record contract that allows her to make a better-produced album to support her highly ornamental style of singing, or tone down the affectations and serve her songs better by singing them more directly.

Customer Reviews

Beautiful singing - wonderful songs

PLEASE do yourself a favor and ignore the Itunes review above - the reviewer makes it sound like Merrie is trying to sound like all these other female singers when in fact she simply has her own unique and wonderful sound. Her singing and songwriting is lush and melodic and she has an intelligent way with a lyric. The production on this album is modern and has an edge, but still feels intimate. This is an all-around terrific album with not a bad song on it. Try Radio or Opal Moon or My Romeo to get a sense of just how great she is!

just beautiful

i concur....her voice is exceptional...lovely melodies, too...just lay back and fall into her...enjoy...!

Little Steps

I just found her music yesterday when creating a slideshow for the birth of my grand daughter. As a long time fan of Antje Duvekot, Ellis Paul, Alannis Morrisette, Michelle Branch, Nora Jones, Joshua Radin... I find her a unique addition to my favorites now as her voice as smooth and melodic as she weaves her stories in music. I am way impressed!

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s

Boston singer/songwriter Merrie Amsterburg began her musical career as the singer and guitarist for the late-'80s early-'90s band the Natives, who were nearly signed by KISS' Gene Simmons, and recorded tracks with Blondie producer Richard Gottehrer. Unfortunately, both projects were unsuccessful — Simmons' label wasn't ready in time to offer the band a good distribution deal, and the Gottehrer sessions were never released; soon after, the band broke up. Amsterburg's frustrated career as a rock...
Full Bio
Little Steps, Merrie Amsterburg
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