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Album Review: Anette Olzon – Shine

Photo: Patric Ullaeus Revolver

Everybody seems to have an opinion on Anette Olzon. The woman hasn’t had it easy since making a name for herself in the world of music. Fronting a band and often being the only female on the road with the boys was evidently not easy, but with the struggles came the successes; critical acclaim from Rock Report and Burrn! magazines ended up with Anette watching her loyal fanbase grow and grow. But enough about Alyson Avenue, she was in Nightwish for a bit as well.

‘Shine’ is Anette’s first real contact with the world since leaving the band and if it’s introverted accounts and thinly-veiled references (‘the wishes that I had in the past, they are gone’) you’re after – you’re in for a treat. That’s not what the record really brags about though – it’s got a plenty of treats hidden up it’s sleeves. As if lead single ‘Lies’ and promo cut ‘Falling’ weren’t enough to tell you, we’re dealing with grandiose pop here. If you see it called metal, scribble it out please. Cradle of Filth really have nothing to worry about. That isn’t to discredit the work done here though – the compositions are soaring and often euphoric, attaining just as much power without a chugging riff at the core.

In the nicest possible way, the music here is as instant and chorus-centric as your average Eurovision entry – this similarity being helped by the scandinavian flickers throughout. ‘Floating’ is a quirky pop ditty and an instant standout – there’s an Enya vibe to it’s chilled out and minimal instrumental. ‘Invincible’ doesn’t really bother with verses at all – the slow burning mid-tempo swells into a dramatic final refrain. On first few listens though, it really is all about the two preceding songs – ‘Lies’ is a full-bodied power ballad with a splendid wail-a-long hook whilst ‘Falling’ shows exactly how a chorus should be done as it peaks above it’s albummates.

Olzon’s period of drama with the Nightwish boys may have been difficult but it’s no secret that without their catapult, she wouldn’t be producing this album today. It’s a polished and produced opus that gives prominence to the lady herself – no keytar solos or dance breakdowns thank you, it’s all about the voice. And it is quite a voice – it may have been instantly written off by trainee sopranos when she took on Tarja’s role, but by it’s own merit, the purity to her tone is never more fitting than on this album.

If you only take one thing away from ‘Shine’, let it be that Anette Olzon is a very good songwriter. It’s a flawed debut, but one that really will take quite a few people by surprise -the record appeals to Anette’s target market (namely the pop-metal crowd) but also begins carving it’s own niche. Whilst the album calls for a little more divergence from the predictable, and a few more standout hooks – ‘Shine’ is warm, often powerful and easy to listen to. Even better, it gives high hopes for what Anette might go on to achieve on album number two.

Photo: Patric Ullaeus Revolver
Words: Simon McMurdo

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