Anette Olzon – “Shine” (earMusic)
This is the long awaited solo debut from ex Nightwish singer Anette Olzon who departed the band in less than amicable terms as seems to be the trend with these Finns! Right off I will say that “Shine” is not a metal album in any sense and this is undoubtedly intentional given how much distance Olzon obviously wants to put between herself and her former band. Still as a soft femme rock album I found it both deep and alluring both in terms of Anette’s voice as well as the somewhat heartfelt music. Singing since she was 16, Olzon trod the boards with Nightwish for over 5 years – often to less than endearing fans of Tarja – and many of the songs on this album were rooted in these times, hence perhaps the melancholy on tracks like ‘One Million Faces’ (co written with Martijn Spierenburg of Within Temptation), not to mention obvious song titles like the dramatic and emotionally charged ‘Lies’ as well as the almost Kate Bush like ‘Floating’, complete with ethereal high vocals, harpsichord keys and orchestral violins. Where she rocks is on the commercial rock of ‘Falling’ as well as the defiant title track, both of which feature a strong dance keyboard groove soothed by lighter harmonies and anthemic choruses. Whilst I was aware of Olzon’s vocal credentials I was truly blown away by her song writing capability although I’ve since found that she has one of the top Scandinavian music teams in mega producer Anders Bagge (who sits on the jury of Sweden’s ‘Idol’ and produces Madonna, Celion Dion and Jennifer Lopez) and song writer Stefan Orn (who wrote 2011’s Eurovision winning track ‘Running Scared’) behind her. Still, with such industry names undoubtedly reflecting their high degree of confidence in her talent as well as potential, perhaps it’s time others stopped harking back to the past and instead give her a fair run as “Shine” seems to confirm she is indeed one of the best female rock voices in her own right.