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Kiwi songbird Amber Claire is something of a rare species on the New Zealand musical landscape – delicate in sound but powerful in emotion, and almost impossible to categorise due to the chameleon-like qualities of her music.

Her debut album, ‘Love & Such’, released here in the middle of 2004 was incredibly well-received, with critics and audiences alike likening her extraordinary voice to that of famed songstresses such as the enigmatic Sarah McLachlan and Celine Dion.

In a local music environment driven by the resurgence of kiwi artists getting their fair share of radio time, it is usually the rock, hip-hop, R&B and pop artists that get most of the attention. So it comes as a surprise to most that ‘Love & Such’ sold more copies than many of the artists featured on the more youth formatted stations.

Amber Claire is very much her own person, a fact that becomes abundantly clear on her second album Great Escape. She has gone through many changes since her first, gold-selling album was recorded and has embraced a whole new set of challenges and passions.

Great Escape is also very different stylistically, as Amber finds her own groove as an artist. The major musical difference between this album and her debut is its lack of electronic interference, with Amber herself saying, "the tracks on the first album that really worked were those that used a live band – and I carried that success onto this album. I feel like I could go and play anywhere with the songs that you find here." It also succeeds in bringing her beautifully subtle voice to the fore, so its compassion and delicate nuances can be fully realised. Amber’s own favourite vocalists are Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins and Peter Gabriel, and she aims to achieve the same use of her voice as an instrument as they do.

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