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Tarja: My Winter Storm

The wait is over for those who had wondered just what former Nightwish singer Tarja Turunen would deliver as her first official solo release since being fired from the powerhouse Metal band a couple of years ago. Yes this is chronologically her second solo album, but given its musical content and direction as well as being aimed at her former bands fan base it is safe to call this her first effort that works along the lines of that which had the world falling in love with her in the first place. I must admit that I was as hesitant to hear this one as I was when I played the new Nightwish for while I fully realize that the only constant is change, her firing had shifted the balance that many never thought would become undone. Together the two parties were an explosive dynamic but often when two such pieces separate the resulting halves never are quite able to achieve the success of the original. Nightwish delivered to the world a new singer with an exciting new album before embarking on a continually sold out tour so when it came to new Tarja music I had to say I expected to find a little bit of the same occurring, especially since there are those who remained loyal to her cause and swore to follow her into whatever direction she would present us with. Before you look into the album My Winter Storm, you need to suspend the belief that you will be hearing music that works along the lines of the powerhouse structure that Tuomas composed for Nightwish again and again. Tarja's release is very "big" in its overall sound but can come off as a little bit pretentious and over produced if you take this as a Rock music album, however if you view this as more of a Classical or Operatic release with a strong Hard Rock vibe to it then it sounds fine. It begins with "I Walk Alone", a track that almost sounds like the singer wants us to be more compassionate with her since she is approaching us now on her own as opposed to being with the big guns in Nightwish. The track is rather slow and while enjoyable is in no way an exciting number that gets the blood pumping. I think that she needed to do this for her opener in order to catch the listener but as the album progressed I found that little of it actually moved in that direction. Don't get me wrong, as Tarja's voice is as beautiful as ever and I have to say that I have missed hearing it inside the Metal that made me a fan of her former band. "My Little Phoenix" also comes off as a biographical track since the legend of the mythical bird is that it rises from the ashes and since the singers return comes after a series of scathing attacks in the media from many different sides, she has indeed risen from the ashes of this press and chosen to give it a go no matter what anyone says.

Strong tracks come by the way of "Boy And The Ghost" since it offers up a lot of the Gothic feel that we enjoyed in some of the more imposing Nightwish tracks. "Our Great Divide" is a beautiful number but it sounds like something out of a film score as opposed to Rock album fare but again this is a progression we see done all across the album. My main problem lied in the aspect that much of the tempo stayed the same on the album and when this happens I find the tracks often bleed into one another and instead of developing life on their own sound like one contiguous movement. She picks up speed during "Ciaran's Well" and "Die Alive" but after so many slow numbers these really seem out of place. The album needed one of these to be the "I got you" opener as opposed to being something that smacks you to attention as the album draws to a close. I admit that I liked these two quite a bit as the singer proves she has not lost any of the fire that we all loved about her. She also does an "interesting" cover of Alice Cooper's "Poison" and this one is simply just…..well, I have to say that words escape me on this and its best left to the imagination or your surprise when you hear it for yourself. Does it work? Well, no, not at all, so we can count this one as a bad managerial decision if nothing else. Tarja closes the recording up with a charming number called "Calling Grace" that features the line "she will rise again", which to me is yet another autobiographical hint. There is a nice sized booklet included with the album so we get all of the lyrics to the songs as well as a number of interesting photos of the singer in various costumes. The cast of players is rather massive for the undertaking and you can check out all those involved in the books liner notes. It's important for the listener to know that while there are eighteen tracks listed, four of these are very brief interlude pieces that set up the next section of music. I didn't take this as a concept release but perhaps in some fashion it was. I guess I need a third listen to determine whether or not this is the case. In the end I guess the question remains as to who should actually give this recording a chance and straight away I have to say if you are expecting something that is quite along the lines of Nightwish then this is not for you. However, if you are a fan of well-crafted and very solidly produced Operatic Rock then this is perfect. It's very different from her previous band yet offers up once again a lot of the passion and beauty with her still incredible voice. Let's see where she takes us with this one and after it. Good luck Tarja.

Track Listing

  1. Ite, Missa Est
  2. I Walk Alone
  3. Lost Northern Star
  4. Seeking For The Reign
  5. The Reign
  6. The Escape Of The Doll
  7. My Little Phoenix
  8. Boy And The Ghost
  9. Sing For Me
  10. Oasis
  11. Poison
  12. Our Great Divide
  13. Sunset
  14. Damned And Divine
  15. Die Alive
  16. Minor Heaven
  17. Claran's Well
  18. Calling Grace

Added: May 12th 2008
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Tarja Website
Hits: 3643

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