IN THE RAW
Release: 30th August 2019
As the saying goes, "not all that glitters is gold". With that, struck the idea of popular Finnish singer Tarja Turunen for her seventh studio album. Three years on from her last album “The Shadow Self”, “In the Raw” finds Tarja and her beautiful going into her most vulnerable sounds, opening herself up more than ever before to where she says she was left feeling naked by her honesty, but also pleased at where she had gone with her words. Simply put, “In the Raw” is a gold-plated work of wonder.
Working with many of the same musicians and production team as before, the intention was to bring out the idea of rawness to match the feelings Tarja was having from the very beginning of the process; a combination of sophisticated and refined orchestration, choir and her classically trained voice with a raw, dark heavy musical core.
"Dead Promises" starts the album with solid Metallica influenced guitar works in it's intro until delving into the heavy metal style of Tarja's solo band with the haunting "ahhs" and hard crunches of the rhythm guitar and strong punches from the drums. Accompanying Tarja, is Björn of Soilwork, who adds rock textures to the song making the song vary between styles, making a very good opener.
Dead Promises (feat. Björn “Speed” Strid)
Goodbye Stranger (feat. Cristina Scabbia)
Tears in Rain
You and I
The Golden Chamber: Awaken / Loputon yö / Alchemy
Spirits of the Sea
Silent Masquerade (feat. Tommy Karevik)
Following is "Goodbye Stranger" a very catchy song with rhythmic hooks and vocal lines of the duet between the Finnish songstress and Lacuna Coil's rockin' Cristina Scabbia. The soaring choruses makes "Goodbye Stranger" an immediate highlight for the album due harmonization of the two amazing ladies in the metal scene. "Tears in Rain" is a straightforward track of a steady tempo until we get to the middle portion where get this fast, and heavy breakdown. The fourth track is a song that has been in the works for years trying to find the right word for it according to Turunen, "Railroads" takes the album's tempo down giving the appropriate theme to the track. Beautiful vocal lines of emotional singing about one's own journey in life, accompanying the violin and piano that shines in the instrumental, and as well the music videos of fans singing/playing along in their own ways shows how much she brought inspiration and connectivity with fans over the years. "You and I" is a ballad with colourful and lovely operatic sections and the playing of elegant grand piano and symphonic instrumentation.
Midway through the album, we head to "The Golden Chamber" which is Turunen's own film score, in the first section giving the chance for her to sing without any provision of lyrics, gliding over over the cinematic arrangements, like rather to have the music speaks for itself. "Spirits of the Sea" disrupts the peace with it's doomy- like and haunting intro of the cold, dark waters as Tarja displays her siren-singing abilities of soaring, haunting notes. Featuring Tommy Karevik, "Silent Masquerade" opens with a beautiful grand piano opening line with a spoken-word intr that's basically the theme of the album; "all that glitters is not gold". The track picks up the tempo once we head further in and the chilling atmosphere of Tarja voices filling the air, and as for the duet, catchy with beautiful instrumental melodies in this 7 minute wonder. "Serene" picks up the symphonic elements and much heavier guitar riffs and bombastic percussion which makes them stand out in the track aside from the operatic Finnish prowess. The last track "Shadow Play" comes is with cinematic-like productions, having from a metal to symphonic arrangements, with great crescendos and intensity, Tarja did not want this album to close with something small for her latest work!
At this point, Tarja's solo career has now lasted longer than her career in her former band, and doesn't plan on ever slowing down. I'll admit, I haven't been a big fan on the last two album releases (not counting the winter album), but "In the Raw" made it change with more standout songs and melodies. I wonder how will her next work will follow.
I give Tarja's "In the Raw" a golden 9 out of 10!