Tarja - 'The Shadow Self'

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Tarja - 'The Shadow Self'

Tarja has managed to convince with her most mature, accomplished and flowing album yet.

Having released 'The Brightest Void' several months ago as a prequel to this album, Tarja (Turunen-Cabuli) has already whetted the appetite of her devoted fans. Both releases contain songs that she'd been working on at the same time, although some of them go right back to her 'My Winter Storm' writing sessions.

The dark Scandinavian melancholy pervades almost every aspect of these songs as Tarja readily admits a lot of her writing comes from her dark side, which helps to inspire and create the music she records and that 'Black' was the album's original working title. The name she eventually settled on was influenced by an Annie Lennox interview where Lennox discussed a darker side we all have and referenced the shadow self, which Tarja thought would make a great title, representing the beautiful darkness she has within herself and which all her songs are borne from.

This is probably Tarja's strongest album yet, certainly her heaviest, and I believe she has come of age as a solo artiste. Recording took place in Argentina, Finland and Antigua, with Tim Palmer mixing it at his home studio in Texas. James Dooley and Bart Hendrickson have both been involved in the orchestral and choir arrangements again, as they were on 'Colours In The Dark'. Although Tarja has used a multitude of musicians, some of the usual suspects and current touring regulars are here, including Christian Kretschmar (keyboards), Kevin Chown (bass), Alex Scholpp (guitar) and Max Lilja (cello).

With the exception of 'Supremacy', the Muse cover she has strikingly made her own, all the songs are deeply personal. 'No Bitter End' speaks for itself as the first single/video whilst the second, 'Innocence', has a Chopin piano piece in the middle eight that Anders Wollbeck found for Tarja and which was recorded by Izumi Kawakatsu as she wanted to re-connect with her classical roots. Tarja duets with Alissa White-Gluz – who uses both her growls and clean voice – on 'Demons In You', pokes fun at herself on 'Diva' and dazzles on 'Love To Hate' which is both encapsulating and majestic. Her younger brother Tony duets with her on the melodious 'Eagle Eye', whilst the epic, balladic 'Too Many' seduces and enthrals in equal measure.

With epic soundscapes, sweeping brush strokes and kaleidoscopic colours, Tarja has managed to convince with her most mature, accomplished and flowing album yet, which beautifully matches the majesty of her former band Nightwish.

Carl Buxton

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