Album: My Heart

Artist: Ambre McLean

Released: November 24, 2017

Link: ambremclean.bandcamp.com/album/my-heart

Her 5th studio album, My Heart feels like Ambre McLean asking us, earnestly, to keep a deep secret.

This album pulls you aside to have that heart-to-heart with yourself that you’ve been avoiding. It never gets ahead of itself, as McLean spins you stories of love lost and unrequited:

“There is a hole in Nicole’s heart / Like nothing that I’ve ever seen / And the only sound that resounds in the dark / Is the one that reminds her to breathe.”

The arrangement is sparse, with lots of room to reflect. That said, it’s not an acoustic album in the traditional sense. Tracks like “Sad Day” and “Fall Away” embrace looping vocal effects to stretch and bend the melody to a more sombre tone.

Big, open and and airy, McLean’s voice is also cut with something more gritty, a sandpaper drawl that recalls Melissa McLelland circa 2009.

McLean changes up the instrumentation from song to song, bringing in bells, piano, banjo, violin and organ — just not all at once.

It’s this restraint that pulls you in to listen more intently. McLean’s vibrato holds just a touch longer that is comfortable against an echoey emptiness.

On the whole, it’s a dark album. Though there is one truly joyful song on the record (I won’t say which one), it’s quickly chased by more melancholy.

In My Heart, McLean is not trying to solve the riddle of love or show us a way through the pain. Instead, she opens a window to dwell with your heart, no matter what shape it’s in.

– Sam Nabi