Sanna released her latest album last week, titled in tribute to the number of attempts it took her to get to Eurovision. Over the course of said seven attempts, Sanna has crafted a bit of a dual image for herself, flitting between schlager diva and power ballad queen with relative ease. However, more devoted fans will know that outside the world of Melodifestivalen, her sound is much more mid-tempo and middle-of-the-road, and it’s this vibe that characterises much of Sanna’s latest offering.
Of course that’s not to do a disservice to the progression she shows on the album; although it’s all in very safe territory, the production is more electronic than in previous albums, with many of the songs foregoing strings in favour of synths. The opener, ‘Skydivin’ is a good marker of what is to come on the album; it’s a pop mid-tempo whose double-tracked vocals, heavy percussion and general sound puts one in mind of Timbaland’s output at the end of the last decade.
Whilst ‘Skydivin’ has a bit more bite than many previous Sanna Nielsen album tracks, it isn’t the best example on the album of the sound it is going for. ‘Rainbow’ and ‘Trouble’ are both slick percussive pop tracks that could easily have been hits for someone like Jordin Sparks, the former of which is the extremely catchy current single, and the latter of which has a soaring chorus that shows off Sanna’s vocal chops – not to mention the very clear effort to make it oh so contemporary by adding some stuttering ‘d-d-d-deep trouble’ lyrics.
If you don’t really go in for MOR pop and worry that this short album won’t be for you, don’t worry. The collection is saved from mid-tempo hell by a couple of songs. ‘Breathe’ is quite interesting sonically and almost seems like it could turn into a Sanna EDM effort when the first chorus arrives, but actually it’s more of a ballad with a relentless dance beat running through it. Then we have one of the highlights, ‘All About Love’ which stands out from the rest of the tracks with its flamenco guitars and Cheryl Cole clapping samples. It’s catchy, a little cheesy, and the only real uptempo on the album.
One noticeable aspect of the album is how full-on most of the production is; most of the tracks have the kitchen sink thrown at them and when even the proper ballads like ‘Undo’ and ‘Trouble’ are huge bombardments of sound, it’s a relief when the more understated ‘You First Loved Me’ comes along towards the end. Originally written by Fredrik Kempe for Kimberley Walsh’s musical theatre album, its transformation into a Nordic ballad comes very naturally, and Sanna sells it well. It’s lovely, although towards the end it also becomes quite massive and orchestral. So if you like subtle, this album definitely isn’t for you, barring the acoustic version of her Eurovision entry that rounds the whole thing off, and really, who has time for acoustic versions?
All in all, this isn’t an album that reinvents the wheel. There are very few adventurous moments, and many of the songs could have happily existed ten years ago. However, the highlights are very satisfying pure pop, even though some of the rest is background music. The big triumph of the album is the production: it’s crisp, it’s big, and it’s just so Swedish. Despite their safe nature, the production on many of the tracks does put 7 ahead of Sanna’s previous efforts in presenting her as a viable international popstar – albeit one for the mothers.
Highlights: ‘All About Love’ / ‘Rainbow’ / ‘Trouble’
Rating: 7/10 (appropriately)