Pop Essays #25: Amy Studt, ‘Carry Me Away’

It’s Thursday and it’s midday – it therefore must be time for me to trawl my personal playlists of yore to bring you another lost gem in Pop Essays. This week: an album track from one of Britain’s most promising teen protégés in the early 00s…

  • Artist: Amy Studt
  • Song: Carry Me Away
  • Release Date: 30/06/2003 (on ‘False Smiles’ album)
  • Writers: Amy Studt / Fridrik Karlsson / Yak Bondy
  • Producer: Yak Bondy

Call me a man of my age, but if there’s one thing that the decline of magazines has meant in the last two decades (apart from the unfulfillment of my desire to be editor of Smash Hits), it’s… well. It’s the loss of little joyous things that came with the magazine; like free gifts.

Especially if said freebie was music. I do remember that there was one point around the mid 00s where I had a lot of what-I-called “Free-Ds” in my music collection. It was my word (and one I wish had taken off in general parlance) for CDs that I, or my sisters, had obtained free from assorted magazines.

It was on one of these that I discovered a track from an artist that I might not otherwise have heard but subsequently sought out the full album of; chiefly because said artist had a far less softer introduction to the world – musically speaking anyway.

When Bournemouth hailing Amy Studt was first launched into the charts in the summer of 2002, there didn’t immediately seem to be a place for her. Even more so when you consider that she was discovered via Simon Fuller and his 19 Management stable, then better known of course, for his work with the Spice Girls, S Club 7 and Pop Idol.

Her press biog of the time stated her influences were Marilyn Manson and Korn. Comparisons were abound amongst critics to the work of Tori Amos and Courtney Love. They weren’t wide of the mark either; Amy’s debut single, ‘Just A Little Girl’, was the kind of feisty, quirky goth pop that would make Shakespears Sister proud.

But when it peaked and debuted at #14 in July that year, it was clear something hadn’t quite crossed over. However, it did show that Simon Fuller and Polydor Records, her label, were at least ahead of the curve with where pop was going at that time by signing her – they just had to wait for the right moment. And in the time between that debut single and her next, June 2003’s ‘Misfit’, almost a year later, Avril Lavigne had broken through in a major way with her debut album Let Go and hits like ‘Complicated’.

It thus made the repromotion of Amy that much of an easier task; as her British equivalent. Except you listen to a single like ‘Misfit’, and also the follow-up, ‘Under The Thumb’ (both of which went top 10) and there was a smart, witty depth and quality to her songwriting that made her so captivating where sometimes Avril ran the risk of sounding whiny.

On her debut album False Smiles, there was more of a revelation, as she revealed other facets to her personality as an artist and writer. ‘Carry Me Away’ was one such moment. You listen to a song like this, particularly on a gorgeous sunny day gazing up into the sky, and you literally do feel like you’re being carried away on the clouds. It has a magical, almost dream-like quality, that comes from the heart.

It would have certainly made for a great potential single. It was just most unfortunate that at the precise moment where Amy was gaining momentum with her own material, that Polydor took the bizarre decision to have her re-record Sheryl Crow’s ‘All I Wanna Do’ for her fourth single. It was unnecessary and smacked of a major label confidence crisis, and the public agreed when it failed to dent the top 20, thus leading to a mutual parting of ways in January 2004.

Happily, her own material on her albums since (2008’s My Paper Made Men and 2019’s Happiest Girl In The Universe) has emphatically confirmed that she has never needed to rely on covers to continue producing brilliant music. And the evidence of that was there, back in 2003 on ‘Carry Me Away’. To quote Amy herself, it was, and still is, “Music you want to relate to. It’s that simple.”

Don’t forget to follow our brand new Pop Essays playlist on Spotify, which includes all the songs we’ve written about. What are your memories of this week’s featured song or band? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or message us on our Instagram.

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