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Monday, December 12, 2011

Issa – 'The Storm' album review

Issa – The Storm album review
Released on: Frontiers Records. Release date: Available now
 Norwegian songstress Issa, has an absolutely incredible voice which can come across as a brilliant pop rock vocalist and then in the next instance belt out a great rocker.
She has moments that often remind me vocally of Roxette, Heart and then Lee Aaron and I do like all of those artists and so when I received her last album ‘Sign of Angels’ last year for review, I was very impressed indeed.

Here we are a year on and ‘The Storm’ hits us all!
It’s different from ‘S.O.A.’ though and this time around she’s having a go at songwriting herself and she’s also got a bunch of names from the melodic rock genre helping out too.
There’s Daniel Flores (Mind’s Eye) helping out with drums, keyboards and even some bass work too.
Randy Goodrum (Steve Lukather, Steve Perry, Toto), Soren Kronqvist (Sunstorm), Magnus Karlsson and Chris Laney to name just a few.
Robert Sall (Work of Art) helps out on opening track ‘Looking For Love’ as well as providing the lead guitar work here and the song is an instant hook laden, rockin’ winner!

‘Please Hold On’ is next and it’s a bit of a chug along pop rocker, which at times reminds me of some of Heart’s more commercial period. At all times with Issa though, the backing guitar is nearly always distorted power chords, which is where I often feel the desire to compare Issa’s material with Lee Aaron. Where there’s so much melody in the vocal presentation and keyboards all over and yet there’s these dirty guitars pumping out riffs galore.
 In ‘Take a Stand’ it’s a steady enough rocker, with some pop like overtones here and there, again though, she has such a great vocal delivery and a very tasty guitar solo from Mats Lindfors. Very good stuff indeed!

Next song ‘Invincible’ almost takes another direction initially, with a softly, softly intro, very poppy indeed as this power ballad grows. Kind of a little like Roxette territory but it’s got rock to it though, which takes it to the next level. Sweet!

After a flurry of guitar at the beginning, ‘Two Hearts,’ then gets into a steady mid paced chug along pop rocker.
 ‘Black Clouds’ is a track that plays a role as a mid to up tempo number and some of the keyboard touches bring Journey to mind, but the overall sound is pretty consistent with the rest of the album, heavily melodic, yet with those dirty backing guitar riffs, in the fashion I mentioned before, similar a lot of times to how Lee Aaron’s material often came across. It’s good stuff, no question, but often one track sounds very much like the next.
More so, there’s a number of these tracks on here that I swear I’ve heard before, perhaps though that stands testament to how strong they are with their hook lines.
Next up I have to say, ‘You’re Making Me’ again – at least in the chorus - sounds like something very familiar.
It’s another up tempo, hard edged pop rocker that really seems to be Issa’s niche for sure.

‘Going to Stand by You’ is a keyboard / synth driven number, a little in a similar fashion to say Foreigner’s ‘Urgent’ through the verses, but the chorus takes a slightly different direction. I like it and it fits well with everything else here and then just as the guitar solo kicks in ..., the song fades out …? What?! Crazy!

Another steady mid to up tempo is ‘We’re On Fire’ next, keeping the steady mid pace through the verses and then picking up a notch in the chorus. We do get the guitar solo in full here, even if it is brief!
There’s no questioning Issa’s vocal’s at all, I think she sounds great but I think she could benefit with recording with a completely fresh set of musicians and different writers, for a little more variety.
Just as I say this though, the next ballad comes along in ‘Too Late for Love,’ and sounds in a slightly little different style. You know she’s even reminding me a little of T’Pau’s Carol Decker meets Roxette on this one, no bad thing at all, just look at the success both acts have had! All she needs now is worldwide airplay!
‘What Does It Take’ is another one that has a familiar sounding style guitar riff about it and it’s another mid / up tempo number, that is indeed contagious.
 Final track is title track, ‘The Storm’ that starts slow and then picks up to a steady mid paced edgy pop rocker once more.

Overall it’s a good album and it’s good to hear Issa’s voice again, but for me, while ‘The Storm’ is good, ‘Sign of Angels’ has the edge on this for me.
I gave 'Sign of Angels' a rating just under 4 / 5, this one is close but not quite there.

Rating: 3.5 / 5

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