CD Reviews

Issa - 'The Storm' Hot
Written by Central Electronic Brain     September 21, 2011    
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An outstanding addition to every AOR fan's collection.

It’s very hard not to view this album as anything other than a vehicle to showcase the outstanding vocals of Norwegian ISSA (Isabell Oversveen) who comes across as a mixture of Janet Gardner (Vixen) and Shania Twain with a hint of Delta Goodrem on some of her vocal phrasing. For those of you who already have her first album (Sign Of Angels) you know what to expect and here are another twelve songs to whet your appetite. For those not in the know, this is as sumptuous an AOR album that you could possibly get, this side of the Atlantic Ocean, but with the likes of the Martin brothers involved (Vega/House Of Lords/Khymera/Sunstorm), Robert Sall (Work Of Art) and Randy Goodrem (Toto/Steve Perry/Steve Lukather) among others, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

‘Looking For Love’ is a great keyboard-laden opener played at a frenetic pace with some very impassioned vocals whilst ‘Please Hold On’ which follows has some very smooth melodies with a lovely sweet chorus. In fact, play this album on shuffle and I don’t think the continuity and flow of the songs will suffer in any way. If it’s lovely pedal effect echo on the rhythm and a beautiful melodic pitch on the vocals that you want, then play ‘Two Hearts’. If it’s suggestive lyrics mixed with nice harmonics and superfluous keys with sugar-coated refrain on the chorus, stick ‘You’re Making Me’ on play. If you want a pacey, melodious song with a classy keyboard intro and more impassioned vocals from ISSA, then stick ‘We’re On Fire’ on.

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If I have to pick any stand out songs then it’s very difficult, because as good as they all are, it’s definitely ISSA’s vocals that are carrying them along as all the playing, particularly Daniel Flores’ drumming, is very subtle and understated, competent and necessary in all the right places rather than an overblown and outstanding showcase for musical dexterity. With the likes of Magnus Karlsson involved, it definitely shows incredible restraint. ‘What Does It Take’ probably just shades it for me as favourite song from the first two listens as it’s an excellent pacey melodic song with keyboards racing in conjunction with the riff to create an edgy feel, but there are three other early contenders. ‘Invincible’ is a beautiful Shania Twain-esque ballad that is simply fabulous. ‘Black Clouds’ is a wonderful heart-hitting, punchy melodic number with a great keyboard refrain and subtle understated solo and the title track ‘The Storm’ has ISSA almost serenading a cappella style with beautiful subtle notes interspersed like raindrops before the drums intervene and build the song. It has a striking mellifluous ending though that will excite a number of fans.

If I have to be picky then I don’t understand why ‘Gonna Stand By You’, with its broody opening and gorgeous chorus has a solo that fades out almost immediately after it has begun at the end of the song, and the second ballad ‘Too Late For Love’, despite great vocals, comes across as rather generic. However, on the whole, this album, with a wonderfully smooth production by Daniel Flores, would be an outstanding addition to every AOR fan's collection. Move over ladies! There’s a new girl in town. And her name is ISSA!

Carl Buxton

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