on 15 May 2013
As a lifelong ABBA & Agnetha fan i was bound to enjoy this album, and i do (i do, i do, i do , i do). I would just like to say however that buyers should not expect an ABBA sounding album because it isn't that. It's 100% Europop easy listening. Think more The Carpenters when considering purchasing this album.
I admit on first hearing i found it a little bland, though quite pleasant. Though after a few listens it has grown on me, and have found that the tunes have become cemented in my head that they come to mind throughout the day when i am not even listening to them. Agnetha's voice remains sweet & still sparkles the way they used to years ago, though some of the umph from the ABBA years have given way to more warmth and tenderness. Her voice still touches parts of me that no other voice can find.
The overall production of the whole album is strong. Apart from the classic 70's feel disco pounder of 'Dance Your Pain Away', the album is mainly mid tempo & ballads. One criticism that applies to a few songs, would be the lyrics in places are a bit lacking & could have used an english lyricist to proof read as you can tell that the writers are not natural English speakers in places. If i am honest this album would have got 5 stars from me if it had not been for some of the lyrics!!!
The album is a grower, but overall is a collection of richly produced, tender, easy listening ballads sung by a singer who will always rank as a legend amongst female singers.
on 13 May 2013
This is a triumphant return by the girl with the golden hair - ABBA's legendary blonde diva. Her unforgettable voice is in pristine condition, maturity giving it even more colours, expression and subtleties than in her ABBA days, yet still - astonishingly - as fresh and clear as Nordic spring water, and often heart stoppingly beautiful.
Few other singers in the history of pop can match her particular ability to deliver a poignant lyric in such a memorable and touching way; a unique mixture of vulnerability, innocence, yearning, and sexiness. Her disarming Swedish accent - so familiar from her ABBA recordings - only heightens the appeal. Agnetha can make any song immediately hers; it is an instantly recognisable voice and in technical terms, her breathing, pitch, phrasing and diction in this "torchy" repertoire are all unparalleled in modern pop music. Forget Kylie, Madonna and co.; this is the real deal - she is, simply, a living legend.
Jorgen Oleffson's bespoke songs, with contributions by, amongst others, Carole Bayer-Sager and Gary Barlow, are by and large worthy of her talents, presented in sweeping and sophisticated arrangements. There is nothing to alarm ABBA fans here, just a good mix of timeless ballads, disco numbers and nostalgic pop.
The two early singles, The One Who Loves You Now, and When You Really Love Someone, are far from the best things on the album, albeit delivered with heartfelt conviction. I Was A Flower might have sounded sentimental in less skilful hands, but here become a painful anthem to the loss of innocence, genuinely moving. The retro Dance Your Pain Away sounds like the disco love-child of Voulez-Vous, and Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, capturing exactly the swirling hedonistic atmosphere of the late 70s. The implicit lyric will surely make this a huge hit in gay clubs all over the world.
The bitter-sweet duet with Gary Barlow I Should Have Followed You Home has a dark sense of regret; a hint, perhaps, of The Day Before You Came. The two voices blend perfectly. Several other tracks - Past Forever, Perfume In The Breeze and the unlikely title of Bubble (Agnetha's favourite on the album) - are tinged with a similarly haunting atmosphere of sadness. They inevitably reinforce the fantasy of Faltskog as a lonely, rejected, heartbroken women - mainly because she brings such pathos to her generous performances. The balance is then redressed with the cheery Back on your Radio, a piece of pure bubble-gum pop.
The final track, I Leave Them On The Floor Beside My Bed, is also noteworthy; it's Agnetha's own composition, her first for a quarter of a century. It's another wistful, melancholic theme, the sort of nostalgic wallow so suited to her fragile, plaintive voice. Who else cries with the voice like Agnetha?
This is a tremendous return to form, without doubt her most successful English language solo album. If she never recorded again (we must hope she does, but she is, after all, 63 years old), she could still rest assured that she had concluded her remarkable career on a genuine high.
on 18 May 2013
Nice to see her back, and with a knock out album. I am old enough to have all of Agnetha's albums, from date of release, I can say that this one does not disappoint. Her albums have kept a high price, so get them while you can. Just watch her back catalogue start selling, and the prices start rising, as the young (well younger than me) start appreciating her solo career.
on 23 May 2013
OK, let's get this straight. It is wonderful to have Agnetha back in the limelight, but she has not been pushed too hard by Messrs Elofsson & Nordah. This is very easy listening by her standards and in no way ground-breaking; but her voice still has the WOW factor and, for someone of her years (she is 63) she looks fantastic, too, almost regal judging by the photographs in the booklet.
However, a singing icon like her returning to the musical fold should not mean automatic five star reviews from everyone. I think this is perhaps a 3-star album, but I've given four, simply because she has such a fantastic voice which is a joy to listen to. The three best songs, in my opinion, are "I Should Have Followed You Home", the "duet" with Gary Barlow, which was, I understand, created without them recording together in the studio, together with "Dance Your Pain Away", the disco track, and the single "When You Really Love Someone".
Apart from the first and last tracks, which I find quite weak, the other five tracks are pleasantly good. The producers have done a reasonable job in bringing out Agnetha voice, which is unmistakable and pretty wonderful, but she has not been stretched in any way, shape or form. The use of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra is a good idea and works, but make no mistake, the albums released in the eighties "Wrap Your Arms Around Me", "Eyes Of A Woman" and "I Stand Alone" are all better than this. Better than those three is her 2004 release, "My Colouring Book", a collection of covers of 60's songs and all pretty sensational. In fact, when I read she was going back into the studio, I was hoping for another set of covers. The reason? She can sing just about any kind of pop song. Perhaps, that could be her next project and we should all send her a list of songs she could cover from the 60's, 70's etc.
So, for now, the moral is that we should not be fooled into thinking this is as good as it gets with Agnetha, because if she had stronger material, you really would get a five star album. However, the voice is still beautiful and so is she.
on 19 May 2013
I wasn't sure what to expect from this album; would Agnetha still have a voice worth hearing? The answer is an emphatic YES! Her voice is in perfect condition, crystal clear and beautiful, just like in her ABBA days. It is also very expressive, perheps even more so now. It is a most distinctive sound, very lovely, and she has such dignity and class she makes almost anything sound good.
There are some great songs here. And one or two more ordinary songs. As other reviewers have noted, there's nothing very new going on, but I didn't expect anything groundbreaking; it's not her style and why should she fix what isn't broken at her age? And the best of the songs do have interesting quirks: The whistling in Perfume In The Breeze, or the bleak lyric and haunting refrain of the sweet sounding I Was A Flower. Generally, it's the slower, intimate ballads (as always) that suit her best: Past Forever, Bubble, I Keep Them On the Floor... etc. The more poppy tracks (including the singles) are predictable stuff, well delivered, if less memorable.
Rather like the song, Past Forever, Agnetha's theme on the album is mostly regret, nostalgia and sad memories. Is she looking back on her life? Whether or not she's acting a part or reflecting on her own experience, who can say. Perhaps she just recognises that most of us are sentimental in one way or another, and live our lives in the past... And it must be said that recent interviews reveal a far more upbeat and grounded person than the media previously led us to believe.
The album took a few plays to work it's magic; don't give up on it. Listen out for the more reflective moments. It's there that Faltskog weaves her magic spell most potently.
Overall I think this is a fine album, one which is likely to age rather better than her 1980s solo albums, which have dated. I almost wish she'd record some acoustic material, with just her voice, a guitar or piano, and no big production. There's a lot of talent working away on this album, but it's not always needed. It's Agnetha's familiar, plaintive, pleading soprano voice that transforms it all and shines out.
This is a pop album, there is no mistaking that and why shouldn't there be? Agnetha is doing what she does best (although you try telling her that)
I try to give balanced reviews and hate it when people say there are no filler tracks on an album... But guess what?
There are great songs and there are good songs, there aren't any bad songs (save one which I don't think is bad, just a bit "meh") We have heartfelt ballads and upbeat pop it is a perfect (and occasionally bonkers) blend, but it works and that is why I have given this album 5 stars
The One who Loves You Now - a lovely song somewhere in between pop and ballad, it is a feel good song and sung beautifully with lovely key changes and backing vocals
When You Really Loved Someone - it follows beautifully from the first track as it is a bit slower, a bit sadder and has an incredible uplifting rift which cheerfully mixes with the pathos of the subject
Perfume in the Breeze - so descriptive in the lyrics and a lovely song, it is a bit predictable if I'm brutally honest but it doesn't lessen from the enjoyment
I Was a Flower - a ballad and then some. This is a powerful song and is actually the first time I was reminded of Abba as it is very lyric heavy and while there is accompaniment it really just needs Agnetha and a piano and it would have been even better
Should've Followed you Home - Gary Barlow and Agnetha sing the ultimate stalking song? Ok, it isn't that bad in subject matter, in fact it's a rather pleasant song, it reminds me of Lady Antebellum, a sort of easy country / pop song.
Past Forever - back to ballads. A very personal song and one that brings you back to earth
Dance your Pain Away - whoa! Disco is back children as if we ever doubted it. Donna Summer meets Kylie. It's camp, it's catchy it's one rainbow away from an Almighty remix. Any song which has the lyrics "you caught him in the restroom with another one" gets my vote for campest song of the year. My only negative is it almost feels out of place, it is too darn disco whereas the rest of the album is pop and ballad. I'm glad it's on the album as it is a standout track but it almost catches you unaware
Bubble - and back to ballad. It's a nice song, it fails by being straight after the disco but is still a lovely song
Back on the Radio - a slightly manipulated "Cher-like" voice at the start is not the only thing that dates this song. It isn't the best on the album. It just feels it was written a long time ago and although the lyrics try to balance it out it didn't really work for me
Keep them on the floor beside me - the final song on the album and it's a corker. Sung beautifully, it has a torchsong quality to it which is just beautiful. A haunting ballad of regret and the mistakes we make
So there you have it, there is perhaps one song which just didn't really work for me but it is still a song I listen to, I don't skip any tracks because they all work to showcase Agnetha
Don't resist this album, let yourself into the secret inner circle and smile smugly at people who have no idea that an icon such as Agnetha can make an album as first rate, as quality as this
on 17 May 2013
This is a long awaited album and well worth the wait. For anyone loving Abba as I did, its a really lovely album with hauntingly beautiful tracks, and I absolutely love the duet with Gary Barlow. I certainly recommend this to all as an easy listening album, and fast becoming a favourite of mine. Well done Agnetha, your voice hasn't dinished at all with time, and more albums please.
on 13 May 2013
I am quite emotional writing this, as I grew up with Abba. Their music has stayed with me over the years, when my tastes changed and I tired of this genre or that trend, there was always Abba. To this day I still find their music sublime, but it was always in the past.
Agnetha's new album is just like meeting a dear old friend again after a long time. Like an old friend who isn't young, trendy or trying to change the world, but just such a joy to meet again this album brings back so many memories with new stories to tell.
How good the songs are, or how good the reviews are is irrelevant for me. What is relevant is that this sounds like someone I thought I had heard the last of years ago. Actually, I think the songs are gorgeous, beautifully sung and timelessly presented.
Its so good to hear her voice again, and lets live in hope that one day...............
on 24 May 2013
Agnetha has a beautiful bell like voice, suited to this selection of songs, very lovely, perhaps a little sweet but not saccharine. My favourites 'I Should've Followed You Home' (despite it's slightly pervy title) and 'Back On Your Radio'.
on 14 May 2013
Like many, I grew up to the sound of ABBA. Ever since I was a child the voice of Agnetha has always remained with me - it is not a striking voice but there is just something very special about it that I cannot explain.
Agnetha's preformance on The Winner Takes It All is fantastic and I never get tired of listening to the simple melody with a stunning voice. The Day Before You Came and Thank You For The Music are similar.
As with all childhood experiences, we want just something to live with in adulthood and I have purchased all the records Agnetha has made in the many years which have expired since the demise of ABBA. There were some exellent songs but some also fell below the quality which I though Agnetha deserved.
This new album however is the best that Agnetha has made and is a huge credit to her talent. It is the best record I have listened to this year. I am so pleased that at long last some really good writers have written some quality songs which meet the quality of the artist.
I just hope that with the success of this album it will not be Agnetha's last.