Hello everyone – once again, you find yourself reading one of our album reviews, so thank you very much for joining me! Today, though summer may be winding to a close, I’ll be turning the clock back a couple of months to take a look at the studio album Sanna Nielsen released at the end of June, in the wake of her Eurovision bronze medal in Copenhagen. Does it live up to the hype? Read on to find out!
So, “7” – which, somewhat confusingly, is actually her eighth studio album – takes its title from the amount of times it took Sanna to finally win Melodifestivalen and sing on the Eurovision stage; since it was a lifelong ambition of hers, after all. Taking that into account, you might expect a really personal little album, maybe featuring some tracks written by Sanna herself, or at least those selected to bear some lyrical relevance to her life or her momentous Eurovision journey? I definitely hoped for that, anyway. But did we get it?
Erm… not exactly.
We have nine – yes, just nine – new tracks. One of which is “Undo”, which we all know from Eurovision. So eight new tracks. Oh, hang on. One of those is an acoustic version of “Undo”. So seven new tracks. Actually no scratch that. Three of them were released as part of the “Undo” EP earlier this year. So we have a grand total of four new tracks. Good start.
That’s not to say they’re not good songs though. They really are, in the main. I absolutely adore “Trouble” the most, out of the four real new ones:
A bold electro ballad, sublimely produced and enthusiastically interpreted, the staccato ‘de-de-de-deeeep trouble trouble’ chorus is the real winner here. Perhaps they couldn’t think of enough words to fill in the second line, but what they ended up with is incredibly catchy, and it emphasises the drama in the lyrics perfectly. With this being a Nordic pop album, it goes without saying that the production is just exquisite, on pretty much every single song.
And therein, perhaps, lies the problem. What we have here is a Nordic pop album. Which is all well and good, of course. I love Nordic pop. My only issue is that pretty much anyone could have recorded it. Maybe it’s because I was introduced to the songs on this album in chunks rather than as one cohesive piece, but I can’t find much identity to really link them all together. It’s very anonymous. And anonymous can still be a good listen. It just isn’t quite the album I was expecting from someone with as much of a zest for life as Sanna clearly has. *sigh*
Stepping past that rather obvious problem, though, and taking “7” for what it is, it’s still very enjoyable. “Ready” exudes an air of positivity as it portrays the resolve needed to find love again after a failed relationship. “All About Love”, whilst appearing to tackle the rather difficult subject of family break-ups, is an immensely enjoyable listen, layering a number of catchy hooks over a bouncy uptempo backing. The album opener “Skydivin'” (seriously, why drop the ‘g’? This is 2014.) has an absolutely killer bridge and a contemporary empowering beat. If she’s planning to release another single from this lot, “Skydivin'” should probably be the one.
My personal highlight of the album would be the sublime electronic ballad “Rainbow” – penned by one of my favourite songwriters who is also one half of Ask Embla, Ina Wroldsen.
The beat here is just immense. Powerful, driving, commanding. And Sanna’s vocal line is, as always, magnificently executed. Put simply, this is an Ask Embla song (and a bloody good one at that too), and whilst I wish Ina had been the one singing it, Sanna’s inimitable voice is by no means a poor replacement. Once you’ve got to grips with it, this is one hell of a singalong anthem too!
“Rainbow”s lyrics are rather strong, but it’s a little sad that some of the other lyrics on “7” appear to be cobbled together without a great deal of thought –
you took me high up in your sk-ah-ah-yyyy, to fl-ah-ah-yyyy
… but then again, we need not forget that this is Sanna Nielsen of “undo my sad” infamy. And at the end of the day, no, of course lazy lyrics don’t really affect how good a song is or not. I still really enjoy listening to all but one of the songs on “7”, and a few clichéd rhymes and clumsy sentence structures don’t impede that.
Perhaps if Sanna and her team had spent a little more time on this album, it would have been a more personal affair, but as I keep saying: though it’s undoubtedly clinical, it’s . The majority of these songs have hit potential, and that at least renders them a force to be reckoned with!