Fresh from her unceremonious booting off the Nightwish roster, Finland’s classically trained songstress Tarja Turunen tries her hand at going solo on her first album without her former band. She bravely handles songwriting duties all by herself on My Winter Storm, and it’s to be expected that most of the cuts deal with her newfound independence and departure from the group that brought her superior voice to household fame across Europe. Like her ex-band’s most recent Dark Passion Play, the music is lavishly orchestral, flexing the strength of Turunen’s stunning pipes. The single “I Walk Alone” is melodramatic schmaltz inspired by Mozart. Then she jumps the shark: “I’m the reason you’re listening, enlightening your eyes” she sings on “Lost Northern Star” in her cold, proud soprano. She’s always right at home in her symphonic rock playground, but without Tuomas Holopainen’s genius composition skill she tends to flounder, and the extra guitars don’t move past chugging tedium. An operatic rework of Alice Cooper’s “Poison” should be given a wide berth, and it seems rather childish that the most significant way Tarja shows her newfound artistic freedom on My Winter Storm is by punctuating every few songs with a short interlude under a fancy Finnish title. 2007 hasn’t been a good year for the band that was Nightwish, when both parties have released middling efforts at best without the other compared to their capabilities. A welcome reunion might be even sooner than expected.
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