Anette Olzon – Shine
Anette Olzon – Shine (2014)
Reviewed by Allyson Kenning
Well, she did it. Anette fans have been waiting since 2009 for this album, which was put on hold back then due to a pregnancy and an upcoming Nightwish release. Anette Olzon’s Shine finally hit the shelves on March 28, and wouldn’t you know it, I have a few things I want to say about it.
The short story: it’s insipid. That is the only word that comes to mind.
The longer story is that this is not only insipid, but downright disappointing for someone who had a modicum of admiration for this woman’s not insignificant vocal talents. I like Anette’s voice – a lot. During her six or so years fronting one of metal’s premiere bands, she did some admittedly bad stuff (don’t get me started on her renditions of “Ghost Love Score” and “She Is My Sin”, amongst others), but I thought her vocals were very well utilized on Imaginaerum, where she really, err, shone.
So I had some expectations for Shine. They weren’t terribly high, admittedly, but I honestly thought she would do a little more with that voice of hers. And therein lies my big disappointment, or at least one of them. While Anette sounds good and pretty – with which there’s nothing wrong with on a purely aesthetic level – I was frustrated that she seemed to choose an overwhelmingly easy route with her vocals. By this, I mean that the power, the belting, and the *oomph* she possessed and used on Imaginaerum are completely missing. I don’t think my expectations here are wrong, as she takes a lot of pride in her belting; she’s spent a lot of time talking about it on her blog and defending it to her detractors because it was more of a rock technique. There are absolutely no guts to her vocal performance on Shine, except perhaps in the song “Lies”, which is gutsier than most of the rest of the CD. Even this song is nowhere near as great as she sounds in, say, “Scaretale” from Imaginaerum. I won’t go so far as to say that she sounds like an average pop vocalist, but this is definitely not her finest vocal performance by a long shot.
Also disappointing is the songwriting. I believe Anette wrote the lyrics – I seem to recall her saying so on her blog some time ago. She took pride in that, too. They are very personal, but also fairly fluffy and contain overly simplistic rhyme schemes. Credited with helping Anette with the songwriting on Shine is Stefan Örn, who, amongst other things, co-wrote a Eurovision-winning song in 2011, and has collaborated with songwriters the likes of Brittney Spears and Kelly Clarkson. Great name-dropping potential, but seriously sigh-inducing if you think Spears and Clarkson are…let’s just say not your cup of tea.
The album was co-produced by Johan Kronlund, another Eurovision veteran. Consequently, Shine has a highly polished, slick feeling to it. It’s impressed someone, that’s for sure, because Anette has managed to score herself a record deal with the same label as the vocalist she replaced in “that metal band”, EarMusic. That is nothing to sneeze at, and I am certainly not sneezing.
All this being said, I didn’t hate the album. Anette’s songs are hooky, there is no denying that – and I like hooky songs. It’s also a nice-sounding, mellow release that would make good background music because, with all the help she got in producing Shine, it’s very atmospheric. Anette sounds good; as I said, I like her voice and I think she does a pretty job despite how underutilized her voice is on the album. She is capable of great sensitivity and emotion and that comes across well.
Anette has been the victim of a lot of unfair comparisons. However, I think it’s fair to compare herself to herself, though others might disagree and say that the Nightwish material and Shine‘s material are like apples and alligators. Well, that might be true; Shine is not remotely metal at all, so why should we expect her to sing on it the way she sang with her previous band? To enjoy Shine, you need to let all expectations of any of Anette’s past go completely. If you can’t do that, you’ll be disappointed. I did that, and I was disappointed. Lesson learned. Perhaps with a few more spins I’ll get over the fluff, the simplicity, and the insipidness, and start to enjoy this album.
Or perhaps not.
2.0 // 5