Sunday, 18 April 2010

Album review; Anna Bergendahl - Yours Sincerely

Just over a month ago, former Swedish Idols contestant Anna Bergendahl swept to victory in Melodifestivalen, winning the chance to represent her country at the Eurovision Song Contest in Oslo in May with the ballad This Is My Life. A couple of days ago her debut album, Yours Sincerely popped through my door, and quite unsure what to expect from it, fearing another ballad/borefest like Yohanna's album last year, I am pleased to report that it's fantastic and highly recommended. My thoughts on it are as follows;

1. Rolling Dice
- A brilliant album starter, an uplifting pop track with Motown/Schlager influences crossing over in abundance whilst somehow also reminding me of the 90's theme tune to the Dennis & Gnasher cartoon. Would make a brilliant second single because it really highlights Anna's diversity as an artist. 9.5/10

2. This Is My Life
- The MF winner and former Swedish No.1 single. Ok, it's a gorgeous ballad but I still slightly preferred Kom and Keep On Walking. I'm not entirely sure how this will go down in ESC, it could do a Yohanna technically but results don't usually exactly follow those of the previous year, and I'm thinking 8th-12th for Anna which is still a vast improvement on the results of the last three years, even though I loved all three of those songs! Sweden haven't sent a ballad since Jill Johnson in 1998 though so fair enough. 9.5/10

3. Barcelona Blues - This is a really really nice song, but even though I know it's the correct pronunciation, the way Anna sings 'Barthalona' really irritates me for some reason!!! A lovely Spanish influenced ballad, sounds nice next to This Is My Life. 8.5/10

4. The Army
- A marching drum sound aptly introduces this song. Starts as another ballad but builds into a mid-tempo with sweeping strings and a triumphant chorus. Fantastic, a big contender for a future single I'd say. 9.5/10

5. Yeah Yeah Yeah - Another obvious radio hit, this is the most uptempo song on the album so far. It's quite retro in sound, not really old, but the production somehow harps back to Eternal's poppier moments, like I Wanna Be The Only One or something - it's quite 90's in feel. The chorus is quite S Club 7/Steps sounding but not in a cheesy way, moreso their more respectable album tracks. Very good, the gospel choir really adds to it too, very uplifting. 9.5/10

6. My Love - A real step back in sound now, this is almost 1940's-ish in sound. Really pleasant, the backing vocals here have the same affect as those of Cee-Lo's in Kelis' Lil' Star - noticeable but pleasant and effective, giving a slightly different feel to the song. It skips from sounding like a sub-country song to a forgotten wartime classic. Really shockingly works well though. 8.5/10

7. Beautiful - Showcasing her gorgeous voice more than any other song so far, this is a lovely ballad with a string arrangement that is quite Disney-esque, particularly reminding me of Reflection by Christina Aguilera in fact. It is indeed a beautiful song and of course comes complete with a key change which adds to the effect brilliantly. 9.5/10

8. Bye Bye Darling - More of a radio sounding song now, this is mid-tempo. It's the sort of thing I would associate more with Sanna Nielsen than Anna perhaps. Still, it's another excellent song and keeps the quality of the album up. 8.5/10

9. Got My Heart In Your Pocket
- Another change of style here, to a jazz influenced sound almost. One of a few occasions where this album reminds me of Paloma Faith, not that this is a bad thing at all. Anna's vocals shine on the other end of the spectrum here as she hits the big notes with triumph. Not my favourite song on the album but the production is faultless, as are Anna's vocals - not sure about the autotune at one point though... 8/10

10. Have A Heart - The album loses its way slightly here and this is the first track that slips into filler territory. It's pleasant in a 'not quite folk, pop or country but somewhere in the middle' sort of way but certainly not outstanding. 7/10

11. You Make Me Happy - The only duet on the album, Melodifestivalen 2008 contestant Brandur Enni sings with Anna on this track. It's pleasant to hear a duet on the album and shakes it up again but it's nothing brilliant. 7.5/10

12. Melodramatic Mess - An acoustic ballad to close the album, Melodyfree Mess is probably the least memorable song on the album. Joke - it's actually rather nice to have on in the background, but quite boring if I'm honest, particularly compared to the rest of the album. 6/10

Overall: It's a shame this album slips away a bit at the end because the final three tracks aside, this is a stellar debut album. I'm actually shocked at how good it is as I wasn't expecting much from it at all. Plenty of potential singles on here that should keep her profile up in Sweden. Dare I say I actually prefer it to King Salem Al Fakir's current album. Timoteij's debut is to follow along in two weeks, so let's see what that throws up. It will have to be pretty damn fantastic to beat Anna's effort here. A mixed bag taking influences from a lot of genres and era's of time, yet somehow never sounding messy. Fantastic. 9/10


  1. I love this album. I purchased it in digital format since it's been impossible for me to find it on Amazon or the likes (I guess Sweden is the only country in which you can buy the album as a CD --anyway, it doesn't matter: the music is what counts and I have it, so it's fine). I think it's a very good album with really well crafted songs. I didn't know Timoteij were releasing a full album. I'll have to check it out: I loved their song "Kum". By the way: I am Spanish and I was amazed by the fact that Anna pronounced the words "Barcelona" and "sangría" so correctly (although the way she pronounces it is Spanish and I would have loved the catalan prononciation which is "Barselona"). Most of the times, when English speaking singers throw some words in Spanish into their songs I have a really hard time in knowing what they are saying (I remember Tim McGraw's "Señorita"... my God: it sounded like señorrrrirrra). Anyway, that song (Barcelona Blues) really touches me (I'm catalan, so...) and I'm glad that a foreign singer can sing a song about my country without mentioning our national shame (bullfighting). Greetings.

  2. Very surprised by this album. This is the first year in awhile I didn't follow Melodifestivalen closely (my fav years being 2005 and 2006). The song 'Have A Heart' is actually a Bonnie Raitt cover so its not Anna's fault its a little drab. I love the two throwback songs though--'My Love' is by far the best track on this album as it brings in the wonderful Miss Li Klez sound.