Swedish wunderkind Amanda Mair is the kind of preposterously gifted teenager who encapsulates everything that pop’s young dream should be about. She’s got the photogenic model looks, a voice that glides out of the speakers like living silk, and most importantly, the songs to match. For those wooed by Niki And The Dove‘s fantastical airy soundscapes, Mair’s debut album hits the spot like a drop of sweet nectar. Said And Done is a sheer joy to listen to, all oriental strings and glimmering star-light twinkles kissing up against each-other in a beautiful union of songwriting knack and inherently Scandinavian melody.
Lead single Doubt sits nicely alongside the likes of Robyn and Vanbot; Mair’s voice reaching out with a maturity far beyond her years – there’s a soul-searching yearning in it that sweeps over the melange of electronics with a sensibility that recalls some lost ’80s gem. And then, in the middle-eight, Mair speaks out to us, imploring “Will love destroy me… will love destroy this weeping heart of mine?” It’s a moment of spirit-shattering fragility and tenderness, so bereft the lines feel like they’re on the cusp of fluttering away into the breeze. It’s utterly magic, and the ghostly backing vocals that intersperse both this song and House are really quite lovely.
There’s a real cutesy sweetness to a good chunk of the songs here, but never in the twee, saccharine way that has so characterised the likes of Birdy. No, Mair’s sound is something far more musically accomplished, and even by-the-numbers piano ballads like You’ve Been Here Before and Skinnarviksberget tug at the heartstrings in a way that feels refreshingly genuine. “Won’t you give me an hour of your precious time?” she tentatively asks on the latter – the answer could only ever be to happily oblige. Mair’s album poses itself in front of the listener like a well-wrapped Christmas gift, all done up in tinsel and bows; so charmingly presented, so endearing, that to refuse it would be to confess to a heart of stone.
Sense manages to do the whole tuneful quirk-pop thing better than a hundred plays of Somebody That I Used To Know could. This is a girl that, still in her formative years, knows both herself and her sense of artistic integrity better than most people do at 40. For a debut effort, Amanda Mair’s record offers both startling clarity and cohesiveness, a cherry picked smattering of so many inter-related pop elements, here weaved together into a lustrous tapestry of accomplishment. Usually, when the phrase child protégé is bandied around, it comes with connotations of precocious über-brats drowning in their own smugness. In Mair’s case, her skills are presented without a hint of ego. Instead, her debut stands as testament to a remarkable individual on the cusp of womanhood.
When it comes to the brightest, most encouragingly talented new pop songstresses, Amanda Mair is trailblazing away in the upper echelons. If this is what she’s producing aged 17, the thought of what marvels she might work in the years to come is positively breathtaking.