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Music Review

Natalie Imbruglia: 'Glorious: The Singles 1997-2007'

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Natalie Imbruglia: 'Glorious: The Singles 1997-2007'
Released on Monday, Sep 10 2007

Blame it on the L'Oréal ads, her role in flaccid Bond spoof Johnny English, or perhaps that old Neighbours stigma, but Natalie Imbruglia has never commanded the respect she craves. Right from the start, there was carping. When her debut single - the irresistible, radio-raping 'Torn' - became a worldwide smash, cred-obsessed naysayers couldn't wait to point out that Beth Brennan’s indie makeover was a big fat lie; she hadn't written the song. Ten years later, the slights continue. Imbruglia turned up at her record label brandishing a new studio album in the spring, but the good folks at Brightside convinced her to release a career retrospective instead. And so Glorious: The Singles 1997-2007 was born.

As a greatest hits collection, it's woefully slight. Imbruglia might have spent a decade in the music industry – as the album’s title proudly proclaims - but she's only managed to auteur three LPs in that time. As a result, Glorious cushions her nine hit singles with five new songs, one of which, in customary greatest hits fashion, has recently been sent chartbound. But what is here adds credence to the view that Imbruglia might have been under-valued. 'That Day', with its stream of consciousness lyrics and grinding, Stonesy riff, is as adventurous as daytime radio pop gets, while 'Smoke' is an impressive marriage of downbeat electronica and maudlin piano chords. 'Wishing I Was There', a country-tinged stomper with a fabulously rowdy chorus, suggests that Imbruglia might live a little harder than her famously flawless complexion lets on.

But, at times, Imbruglia doesn’t so much fuel her critics as turn up at their houses, hand them all brand new, top-of-the-range laptops and score them six-month internships at the NME. On full pay. ‘Counting Down The Days', a soft rock chugger about long distance love, buries its touching lyrics in layers of studio gloss, while the breezy guitar strums and hackneyed observations of recent single 'Glorious' flirt with Dido-style blandness. ‘Shiver’, meanwhile, is too self-consciously stirring to be taken seriously.

Inevitably, Glorious is anchored by 'Torn', the career high that Imbruglia is unlikely to match. But the majority of this collection – especially the impressive new tune ‘Be With You’, which glides from insistent, Moroder-flecked verses to a pretty, cascading chorus - points to a pleasing conclusion: Beth Brennan came good after all.

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