Then, after her fourth album, Come To Life, was pulled from release schedules in the UK, she went off to mentor contestants on the X Factor and appear in Alan Ayckbourn plays.
She didn't seem bothered that her musical career had fizzled out, telling the Telegraph last year: "I'm not a careerist. I don't think like that. I've never been trying to have a number one single. That happened to me. I'm about happiness, enjoying my life. I'm the laziest artist I've ever known.”
And yet here we are, 12 months on, with a brand new Natalie Imbruglia song. OK, so it's a cover - but she's got a great history with other people's songs (I prefer her version of Crowded House's Pineapple Head to the original).
The song she's chosen is Instant Crush, which originally featured on Daft Punk's Random Access Memories. Imbruglia ditches Julian Casablancas's's's's vocodered vocal for a more honest, emotional performance, over an chiming acoustic background.
"On the original version, you can't really hear what the song is about because of the effect that Julian's voice has, which I love, by the way," she told Stereogum. "However, it is such a beautiful story that I want people to hear it and connect with the words. I'm really proud of the way it turned out."
Listen below. It teeters on being bland - but I find myself charmed.
Instant Crush is taken from Imbruglia's forthcoming covers album, Male, which sees her reinterpret traditionally masculine songs by the likes of The Cure, Neil Young, Damian Rice, Tom Petty, and Cat Stevens.