There will be many waiting for Anette Olzon to fail here. Most believe the former Nightwish singer is no more than a mouthpiece with little creative talent, and so Shine will come as a pleasant shock. It offers sedate, superior pop-rock, but leans on symphonic arrangements to give the songs an epic quality.
At times, such as on Like A Show and Watching Me From Afar, there are traces of Kate Bush in her approach. And there are inevitable comparisons to Nightwish on the title track and Moving Away. But the main impression is of an artist making her own mark, and determined not to be pigeonholed.
Under the guidance of producers Stefan Örn, Johan Glössner and Johan Kronlund, she is encouraged to open her horizons and get beyond what she might have achieved with Nightwish. This becomes clear on Falling and Hear Me, both of which have a misleading simplicity that belies their sophisticated musicality.
Shine is an album that pays rich dividends on successive plays because what appears to be obvious melodic rock then manifests itself as having far more to interest Prog readers. It’ll be intriguing to witness these songs live.