The Norwegian ex-girl band singer embraces the mighty sound of rock, with mixed...
Harry Holgate 2007
Marion Raven is a singer-songwriter of Norwegian extraction who we’ve not heard much of in Britain but who’s been plying her trade around the US, Europe and Asia for quite some time now. Well, sort of. Up until 2002 a teenage Marion was cutting her teeth with girl group M2M and Set Me Free is her first full-length solo release, as well as an attempt to put aside childish things like bubblegum pop and to embrace the great god Rock.
To this end Raven (her real name; no sneering people, she got lucky) has been hanging out with rockers in order to darken up her sound. Motley Crue’s Nicky Sixx is effusive about her talents and co-wrote and produced the album’s eighth track ''Heads Will Roll''. Meatloaf is also a fan and the pair are touring Europe together at the moment, having dueted on ‘Loaf’s ''All Coming Back To Me Now'', and she will also be opening for Pink later in the summer.
So far, so good you might think: she has approval from some pop rockers, but what’s her stuff like? In a word: mixed. Much of her press compares her to Avril Lavigne and Kelly Clarkson but with a ‘darker edge’ and this is a good place to start, with ''Here I Am'' sounding an awful lot like Kelly and ''Break You'' sounding an awful lot like Avril. This is not necessarily a bad thing, both girls have talent and Raven compared favourably with them in terms of vocal power and musical ability while spitting invective better than either.
The problem is that while their albums tend to be written and produced by a consolidated team over the course of a year or so, Set Me Free has been rather longer in gestation. Several tracks appeared on the 2005 EP, Heads Will Roll, and the variety of songwriters Raven has worked with means that the album doesn’t hang together as an edifice despite highlights such as the soaring ''13 Days''. Added to this, the songs have a tendency to be rather ‘me me me’ and both of these faults might have been mitigated by a shorter time-frame, or even a consistent band to back her up.
Raven broke a big money contract with Atlantic Records in order to gain more musical freedom but that freedom has proved to be this album’s undoing.