[HOT TRACK]Torn Between Two Personas

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[HOT TRACK]Torn Between Two Personas

Natalie Imbruglia tore the hearts of many a young man, but then the Australian singer of the hit single "Torn" vanished from the music scene.

Four years later, Imbruglia is back with a sophomore effort, "White Lilies Island." Was the wait worth the while?

This new release differs markedly from her first album, "Left of the Middle," whose angst-ridden songs drew comparisons to Alanis Morissette. Anger rang out in songs such as "Big Mistake," when she sang, "You're down on your knees. It's too late, oh don't come crawling."

At that time, she was overcoming a severe bout of depression. At 19, she had just turned her back on a successful acting career, leaving the cast of the Australian soap opera "Neighbors," to relocate to London and its wild party scene. She was close to being dismissed as a fallen star.

Then she did "Torn," which in 1997 unseated Elton John's "Candle in the Wind" at the top of U.K. pop charts. By the time "Left of the Middle" hit record stores, Imbruglia was an MTV superstar.

But the rest of the songs on that first album, except for "Intuition," lacked the passion of "Torn." Critics speculated that Imbruglia was a puppet of the production company, as the tracks on her debut effort were all put together by industry heavy hitters.

By contrast, Imbruglia collaborates on production of all of the cuts on "White Lilies Island." The result? She is in control of her songs and no longer so angry. In "This Day," she sings, "Sad, scared, small, alone, beautiful, it's supposed to be like this. I accept everything."

Another, "Satellite," even has a finger-snapping Caribbean beat. Instead of the "I'm cold and I'm shamed, lying naked on the floor," in "Torn," she sings "Honey, all that I've been doing is thinking about your smile."

"White Lilies Island" is solid and secures Imbruglia's position as a singer. The album is named after an island near her winter home in England. "The concept of an island is supposed to be paradise," Imbruglia said. "But for me it was isolation, and I think that's reflected in the music."

Imbruglia cites strong female musicians such as Joni Mitchell and Shawn Colvin as her main influences. "Actually, in my fantasy, I'm the male lead in a rock group," she said. "But because I'm female and pop, my musical interests get filtered in a certain way." That must be one fine filter.

by Joe Yong-hee

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