For one with a head start, it must be frustrating to find yourself boxed in so quickly. The well trodden path of introspective-female-singer-songwriter is a busy highway these days. Amy Study was marketed as a kind of Alanis Morissette for tweenagers a few years ago, and although her vocals have matured, the subject matter of her second album would still satisfy a sixth-form feminist.
Amy whoops and wails through confessions of fragility like the natural successor to Tori Amos, with the same gratingly cathartic type of lyrics (“Oh Daddy Daddy don’t send me away, never been a bad girl” in She Ran). There’s more than a nod to Kate Bush, notably in the banshee calls of Chasing The Light, a chugging bassline in Sad Sad World that would fit PJ Harvey and a breathy piano number (Here Lies Love) that owes something to Cat Power.
But the album has a weakness for building into the emo-opera of Evanescence and laying the lovely-loser shtick on a bit thick (“She walks alone. She’s not invited to parties” in She Walks Beautiful). Instead of the arrhythmic and polyrhythmic wanderings that give you a Bjork or a Coco Rosie, there’s simply a hotchpotch of styles within each track, from smoky jazz in One Last Cigarette, through the Hall-and-Oates-ness of Walking Out to the playground chorus of harpies in Nice Boys.
There’ll always be music for wronged women, but without the jauntiness of Feist or Fiona Apple it’s easy to sound self absorbed or victimized, making My Paper Made Men more of a tearful raspberry to the world than a two-fingered salute.