It's is no secret that I love Swedish pop and Amanda Mair, all almost 18 years of her (Eight. Teen), is no exception. Her debut self-titled album follows a whirlwind year of anticipation and buzz thanks to glowing reports a number of renowned bloggers, and The 405, have given her for her singles 'House', 'Doubt' and Sense', the album lives up to the hype that preceded it.
Mair delivers a depth and intelligence in this album that usually comes from artists that have really felt the hard grain of life over a number of decades. There is a hidden innocence to this album, not in the Britney Spears way of coyly declaring innocence in a full-blown sexual demeanour, but an innocence which values the simpler things in life. This appreciation - almost doe-eyed wonder - of life, love and growth come from someone who understands the value of these very things but who also sees the darkness in them too. This is not too far a cry from a young Lykke Li.
It is difficult not to return to Mair's age as a reference point on this album but it is so unusual to see someone this young with a unique sound that wasn't churned out from the X Factor or Disney machine. Not to disregard any of those musicians, but here is a homegrown and nurtured talent which has found its footing without taking the quick route. Even at almost 18 years old (she turns 18 on June 14 - happy birthday), she spent a large portion of her teen years singing in Swedish night clubs, accompanied by her parents, so she has years of experience under her belt which she further honed in Rytmus Musikergymnasiet, one of Stockholm's leading music schools.
Mair's voice is pristine and as she sings about heartache, it is this pureness in sound that makes it all the more beautifully harrowing. In 'Before', she questions if her old flame still believes in a love that they once shared. In 'Skinnarviksberget', which is apparently a mountain where all the cool Swedish kids hang out, finds out starlet pleading with a loved one to drink wine with her. She urges him, over the gentle riffs of a piano, to give her a minute, an hour, a day, a month of his "precious time". Alas, she is left alone as a "fool on the hill" with just a bottle of wine to keep her company. Crushing.
The already released singles, 'Doubt', 'House' and The Cure- resembling 'Sense', take a more uplifting approach to melancholy with the added chutzpah of synth and slow-building, climatic energy. This album is more of an indicator of what lies ahead for Mair. In a recent interview with Popjustice, she admits to not writing her own music, that task fell into the hands of her record label, Labrador Records, but she insists that it is something she wants to do in the future. And while songwriting is not a prerequisite to being a great performer or singer, the adamance that she has staged so far in her career will hopefully escalate so that we can further appreciate her music as her career continues.