In theory, this sounds like a waste of time. The one-time Nightwish singer’s latest features alternative versions of every song on last year’s Colours In The Dark album, except for the cover of Peter Gabriel’s Darkness (replaced here by a studio rendition of Into The Sun).
But the reality is that these comparatively bare demo and radio performances actually enhance the material. No longer hampered by overly fussy arrangements, Tarja’s voice chimes through with unrelenting emotion. On 500 Letters and Never Enough she sounds lucid yet passionate, no longer impressing with her technique, but with her untethered conviction.
The difference between these versions and those on the original album is that the earlier versions were overblown and these renditions are more intimate. This CD was originally given away at selected dates on Tarja’s last tour. Now it’s more widely available it should make many more people aware that Tarja would benefit from working in a more basic environment. Not that she’s gone all rock’n’roll – there are still lush string accompaniments – but given the chance, she can deliver depth and feeling with just her voice.