14 THE “ST 25 Jun—9 Jul 1998



be content with the girl-next-door role for

long. Not only is the Aussie soap graduate top totty but she‘s also got more than the industry standard issue of three brain cells to rub together. No commercial bubble—gum

pop for this gal. then. The twenty-three—year

old's first single 'Iimz. which went straight to No 2 in the UK chart. was a four minute slice of pop perfection. full of poignant lyrics. biting vocals and echoing harmonies. lndeed her musical references owe more to her own heroes Joni Mitchell and Shawn (‘olvin than Kylie and Jason. llaving put her life as Beth the dungaree-clad trainee plumber in in'ig/tlmurs firmly behind her. she‘s now preparing to take the music festival circuit by storm including an appearance at T in the Park.

‘lt was always at the back of my mind to make a record. but it was frowned upon because so many people from soaps have tried to do it.‘ confesses lmbruglia. ‘In the end I said “I want to do this because I want to do it. and if they want to throw tomatoes at me they can. I don‘t care".’ As if.

ller polished debut release Left ()f The Middle sounds more like a third album than a first and stormed in at No 5 in the L'K. As the newest recruit to the fashion pack of angry young female singers. her brand of folk-pop makes for a stream of spiky and intelligent songs. delivered in that powerful thick-as- fudge voice.

'I want to do this because I want to do it, andifthey want to throw

tomatoes at me they can, I don't care'

Natalie lmbruglia

Does she believe R(‘;\ picked her out to be their own version of the tortured Alanis Morissette thing'.’ She isn’t phased one bit by the marketing strategy. ‘Yes. I think that is what they were looking for. Which is line. and it‘s lucky for me that they weren't looking for something else. Right place. right time.’

This refreshing honesty and complete lack of arrogance is typical of lmbruglia. despite the fact she had already achieved international stardom while still in her teens. Precocious. sure. but with one career change and a premature mid-life crisis the inspiration for much of the material on the album under her belt. lmbruglia reckons she's pretty well- qualilied to comment musically on life and it's trials. There was also the obligatory headline- making affair. with David Schwimmer of Friends fame. which ended in tears and is the only subject at which she balks: ‘()h him. the one in l.:\.‘

Breaking rank with her soap predecessors and opting for the folk babe style has proved a smart move. earning her surprising credibility with the critics and taste-makers who have all but forgiven her for her shady TV past. 'lt really surprised me.‘ she admits. ‘l'm a pessimist and I had prepared myself for the worst. I feel like I‘m the new kid on the block and I‘m quite scared but really excited.‘ It's a plot twist worthy of the soaps.((‘laire Prentice)

NME Stage, Sunday 12 July.