Saara Aalto became widely known across the globe when she burst onto screens both large and small, as runner up on the 13th UK season of ‘The X Factor’.
Ridiculously talented, she was quickly signed to Simon Cowell’s label but never released anything.
Selected to compete for Finland in this years Eurovision, her new label created a lot of buzz, putting the process of choosing her song in the hands of the Finnish people.
Hoping to gain some momentum in the lead-up to Eurovision 2018, she’s dropped her latest album ‘Wild Wild Wonderland’.
This album is unabashedly pop.
Looking through the writing and producing credits it makes complete sense. Pop powerhouse team Xenomania (Girls Aloud, Sugababes, The Saturdays) make an appearance here on ‘My Touch’, which offers the usual Xenomania fare with Saara’s powerhouse vocals cutting through like a hot knife through butter.
David Sneddon (Hurts, Lana Del Rey, Olly Murs) contributes with the ballad of the album ‘Dance Like Nobody’s Watching’. Showcasing the light and shade in Saara’s voice, it’s a great modern pop tune. It’s piano-driven, references dancing and doesn’t try to overdo the moment – all important parts of creating a great pop ballad.
Asides from the winning song for Finland’s Eurovision entry (the brilliant ‘Monsters‘.), the other two options that might have been also feature.
‘Domino’ still hits it out of the park and the criminally underrated ‘Queens’ (featuring one of my favourite songwriters Thomas Dutton aka Tom Aspaul) is another highlight.
Possibly the song of the album for me, ‘Sirens’ features writing from super pop writer Richard Stannard (Spice Girls, Kylie Minogue, Sophie Ellis-Bextor) and it’s a serious tune. This could have been in contention for her Eurovision entry but I’m glad it hasn’t been. I get to enjoy it in its own context. I could continue with all the pop credentials here but there are just too many to go into great detail with.
I’ve focused a lot on the writers here because it’s had a huge influence over the quality and authenticity of this record. And it’s worth noting that Saara has co-written every track, a nod to how talented a musician she is.
My only complaint? The horrendous artwork. It’s tacky. And while attempting to be throwback, it looks like something put together by a primary school student. It’s one of the only blemishes on a collection of excellent pop songs.
Eurovision hasn’t offered such a strong pop moment since Loreen with ‘Euphoria’ back in 2012 as it has with ‘Monsters’.
And this collection of songs that accompanies it is well worth the investment.
VERDICT : 4/5.
MUST LISTEN : Monsters, Dance, Dance Like Nobody’s Watching, Sirens.