Delta Goodrem - Innocent Eyes

The ugly duckling to the beautiful swan is one of the set pieces used by scriptwriters the world over. It doesn't matter whether it's Brookside fighting the class war or Neighbours, it's a move guaranteed to take place at least once every two years and it's one that Delta Goodrem knows all too well. Goodrem is known for her role as Nina Tucker in the popular tea-time soap and it's seen her develop from a shy introverted girl to the hottest babe in the soap and although it's easy to cast her as the latest in a long line of ex-Neighbours stars such as Kylie, Natalie Imbruglia and Holly Valance you've got to remember that she was in fact playing classically trained piano from the age of 12 and the song that made her, "Born To Try", was actually self-penned rather than written by a focus panel of Swedish songwriters.

The fact that "Born To Try" could bring genuine unadulterated emotion to a daytime soap was unheard of since the famous  soundtrack to Scott and Charlene's wedding. We'd cried before at Neighbours, at how trashy it was and if you're an alcoholic depressive you'll cry at the lamest of things at 2 in the morning, but this was a song which tugged on the heart strings and never retreated into Celine Dion or Mariah Carey warblings. Delta Goodrem is a person who is always understated and lets the song carry itself rather than intruding on the listener and that belies her underlying confidence that she will make it on the basis of quality songs rather than a GQ covershot like Holly Valance has in the past. Each song is dripping in melancholy but rather than that of a stroppy teenager ala Avril Lavigne she's expressing thoughts and feelings above her tender years and at the same time it's all tied back to her childhood of which so much of her personality is linked.

On the title track she sings "Do you remember when you were 7 and all you wanted to do is show your mum you could play piano" and despite the various tales of broken hearts throughout the album there's a genuine sense that Goodrem would be happy spending the rest of her years with a piano for company. The idea that the men who come into her life to simply aid her songwriting is not that far from the mark. "A Year Ago Today" rewrites Michael Jackson's "Ben" and still maintains that innocence of a wide eyed child trying to find her way in the world. "Running Away", "Predictable" and "My Big Mistake" prove that she has a true understanding of what it takes to be a truly great popstar and also show her moving away from the ballads she's know for. Goodrem is character of real depth and while to the outside there's little to report apart from soap starlet turns popstar, there's something tragic under the persona which is ingrained throughout.

"Innocent Eyes" is an album which has no marketing plan or doesn't fit into a easy identifiable space or time. It could have been released 30 years ago and sat side by side with Carole King's "Tapestry".

Alex McCann

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