I’d say that with her new album the Finnish singer returns to a some kind of normality. And what I mean by that is that however interesting “The Shadow Self” might have been three years ago (and various compositional attempts in the interim), I had begun to wonder and fear actually where this great soprano singer going with her career, as she seemed eager to leave her soprano voice behind. In addition, her overall musical style clearly showed an artist searching for other paths that was more or less contrary to her excellent feedback of the past. The good thing is that Tarja wasn’t really affected by those career decisions as they really taught her a few things.
Personally, I believe that “In The Raw” is here best solo effort since “What Lies Beneath” (2010) and it’s really the album that I had been waiting and wanting to hear from her. Right from the opening notes of the sensational “Dead Promises” but also with the song “Goodbye Stranger”, one can easily gather that this is a really good album. Tarja reigns all over the record not simply as great vocalist (like she was in Nightwish) but as a great musician, too. “In The Raw” includes so much good music and diverse songwriting that you can’t help but taking notice of the whole record.
We have to make special reference to the excellent bunch of special guests: Bjorn “Speed” Strid on “Dead Promises”, Cristina Scabbia on “Goodbye Stranger” and Tommy Karevik on “Silent Masquerade”. And I may not know a single Finnish word but I can’t help listening over and over again to the majestic and soundtrack-esque “The Golden Chamber” with lyrics in Tarja’s native language. The same applies to the pompous closing track “Shadow Play”.
Needless to say that the purchase of the album is a “must” for all the fans of the genre while I will urge you to choose the great vinyl edition.