Natalie Imbruglia's latest album is perhaps best experienced on a sunny Sunday afternoon, out in the garden, in the shade, with a chilled drink, where tracks like radio single "Shiver", the arresting "Perfectly" and the title track "Counting Down the Days" emphasise the fully enthralling effect of Natalie's soothing, soulful vocals; her voice has the equivalent upshot of a salve, allowing you to relax and unwind. Along with tracks such as the exquisite indie-esque guitars of the anthemic "Sanctuary" and the intoxicating enchantment of "Satisfied", "Honeycomb Child" and "I Won't Be Lost", the album whisks the listener away to a place of perfect bliss. This is Natalie performing on her own terms, displaying a confidence and subtlety not seen since "Left of the Middle".
"Counting Down the Days" displays Natalie's effortless ability to create soulful harmonies, uplifting lyrics, and couple them with an oft-poignant intensity, such as in "On the Run", the arrangement of the melody made haunting with a soulful piano complementing Natalie's powerful Accapella vocal. She also delivers when it comes to providing catchy, fast-paced rock-fuelled anthems, such as "Sanctuary". Ignoring her critics' slurs that she was a one hit wonder with "Left of the Middle", and a sophomore slouch with "White Lilies Island", she returns with an album that is eminently playable time and again, defying expectations of being unable to deliver on the superlative promise of "Torn". "Counting Down the Days" is the album that categorically quashes any such doubts, a perfect example of gentle, easy-going contemporary pop/rock.
Writer: Steve Bromby