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The 16-year-old Swede Amanda Mair is drawing lots of comparisons to Kate Bush and it’s easy to see why. Not only is she an appallingly gifted teenager who was plunking out mature-beyond-her-years piano pop outside the music industry spotlight (Bush in her parents’ farmhouse outside London, Mair at her home on an island near Stockholm), but like Bush, she also attracted the attention of an established pop star in her native land who brought her to the attention of his label.
Granted, the touring drummer for Club 8 is not exactly on the same level of stardom as David Gilmour was when he famously championed the precocious Kate, but the demos said drummer recorded of the then 15-year-old Mair were impressive enough to catch the attention of the peerless Labrador label. For the last several years, Labrador has been one of the most reliable labels on the planet, releasing a seemingly endless string of sublime Swedish indie-pop (see: The Acid House Kings, Pallers, The Radio Dept., Sambassadeur, The Sound of Arrows, et al). Based on the promise shown by her debut single “House,” Amanda Mair should have no trouble helping Labrador extend their winning streak.
Produced by Philip Ekström from The Mary Onettes / Det Vackra Livet, “House” swells from a stark piano ballad to a dramatic epic, topped with Mair’s remarkably self-assured vocals. Where a 16-year-old obtained the life experience to pen such a mature and regretful look back at a failed relationship is anyone’s guess – the lyrics for “House” are a far cry from mopey teenaged diary entries and compare favorably to old pros many times her age. Mair was one year old when the former “new Kate Bush” Paula Cole bequeathed the world the lines “Open up your morning light / And say a little prayer for I,” yet one gets the impression that the self-possessed Mair would’ve given that couplet a few more rewrites before committing it to tape (and she’s not even a native English speaker).
It’s not possible to predict an artist’s entire career based on the first song they ever release. This may end up being the only decent thing Mair has to contribute, but that seems highly doubtful. At the very least, the young Swede has leapfrogged to the front of the line of artists to watch. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how far she can progress, considering that she still has half a decade to go before she even reaches the ripe old age of the 21-year-old Adele.