TARJA       My Winter Storm
Spinefarm Records (release: November 19th, 2007)

The first real solo album of Miss Turunen at last, of whom I've been a great fan for a long time. A lot of stuff here with 18 and even 21 tracks on the special edition of My Winter Storm, but you can already put four interludes aside. Phew !
Is it an answer to Bye Bye Beautiful from her former mates but also childhood friends ? I Walk Alone is the first song, which sets up the general atmosphere and it's a real beauty. One feels here the girl hurt by this sad sacking, especially if you take in consideration the album title and the fact that Tarja said she would leave them after this year's NIGHTWISH release. But it was just to make a good impression and nobody's fooled.
But let's get back to the subject with Lost Northern Star, heavier, with huge guitars, before quieter and symphonic The Reign (now I know who the queen is) on which she shows all her grace and talent. The others candidates might as well give up and go home ! Another passing reference with the interlude The Escape Of The Doll ? Maybe. But at this stage, everybody must admit that it's not a second-rate album, with all along majestic strings arrangements and also choir on Die Alive or Sing For Me (and they do it !). Anyway, our lovely Finn hasn't surrounded herself with clumsy musos for the occasion: Doug Wimbish (bass, LIVING COLOUR), Alex Scholpp (guitar, FARMER BOYS), Earl Harvin (drums, PET SHOP BOYS) and Torsten Stenzel (keyboards, MOBY). Then amazingly arrives a cover of Vincent Furnier's Poison (if you don't know who that guy is, please take your Metal bible out !) but quite pleasant however, followed by a couple of still tremendous songs (Our Great Divide, Damned And Divine). For those who would have fallen asleep (you rude boys !), a male scream wakes you up just before lively Ciaran's Well (you'd better dive into it straight to hell !) with the guitars coming back.
And the journey ends with still touching Minor Heaven and Calling Grace, except if you've got the special edition, in that case you can listen to three bonus tracks: Damned Vampires & Gothic Divine and two others versions of I Walk Alone. Great ! Well... the first one is a little longer version of Damned And Divine and on the other hand, I couldn't find the difference between the original and the new I Walk Alone. I had to analyze in detail both 317 times to discover the terrible truth: the "new" version is actually the same, but with the addition of the intro Ita, Missa Est. I hope it's clear for you but... what bonuses ! As a reward, take your bagpipes out for the final remix, with the help of IN EXTREMO's guys.
Sorry but I said about NIGHTWISH's last record that it's always the same with a thirteen tracks album, it's two or three too many... and... ahem... true, I've just listened to 21 fantastic songs here (even if some of them might sound similar) without realizing anything ! I think I've been bewitched by her captivating warm voice once again ! Call the exorcist on duty !!!
OK, let's be serious again. So, My Winter Storm is neither a pale imitation of NIGHTWISH (even if some tracks could easily appear on Dark Passion Play) nor a complete opera album. This little lack of coherence, by alternating both styles, might be its only fault.
What then ? Everybody knows she greatly has the capabilities to sing classical works in major opera houses (and she's trained to) but will she take the plunge one day ? Anyway, it would be funny to see long haired guys wearing jeans and leather jackets in the audience at La Scala in Milan or listen to Wishmaster as an encore just after Hamlet ! Otherwise, she may wait a couple of years, until Anette gets fired, to come back home. It's the latest fashion nowadays !
One could blame her for having caught a swelled head during the previous part of her career but for the present, among female singers on Metal planet, Tarja is definitely (and by far) the best...Laurent