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Album review

Sonja Kristina 

Sonja Kristina

added: 27 Feb 2014 // release date: 10 Feb 2014 // label: Angel Air Records
reviewer: Claudia A

Sonja Kristina - Sonja Kristina - Printable version
Sonja Kristina fronted British prog-rock band Curved Air until the band’s split in 1976. Embracing the vibrancy the music scene of the late 1970’s had to offer, she then formed her own band Sonja Kristinas Escape, while hubbie Stewart Copeland formed The Police.

This album was released in 1980; however, while it is credited to Sonja it really has the band Escape firmly behind it.

The ten tracks are an arresting hybrid of melodious electro pop fused with edgier, harder rock while the then looming New Wave spirit rings through as well. What certainly rings through on every number are keyboards and Moog synthesizer.

Echoes of Lene Lovich and La Wilcox can be heard, especially on the fabulous Mr. Skin which, ironically, is the only cover version on the album (the original is by Spirit).
Roller Coaster rides much in the same direction, a clever arrangement with choppy electro-style beats and with the ‘Corona Stage School children chorus’ on backing vocals.

Opener Street Run gets more frantic as the song goes on, re-telling Sonja and Stewart’s experience during a Notting Hill Carnival outing and which ended in the so-called Ladbroke Grove Riots. The mood of that day is emphasized through Sonja’s increasingly manic singing, and an aggressive and abruptly ending hammering on keyboards.

Man He Colour shines courtesy of Spanish guitar solos, which is the odd one out in this otherwise mellow and harmonious pop arrangement. It goes hand in hand though, with Sonja’s singing adding bite and attitude. And that’s befitting, seeing how the song was conceived while Sonja was sitting in Mayfair for an artist who painted her face on his portrait of Marie Antoinette.

Just how fine a voice Sonja has is particularly exemplified on tracks Full Time Woman, a wonderfully constructed and insightfully performed song which tells of a woman who was having an affair but which in the end becomes a full-time thing. Then there’s the simply beautiful Colder Than A Rose In Snow, a song which had been written for Sonja by one Norma Tager, and which wouldn’t sound out of place if performed by the likes of Joan Baez. Violin and harpsichord add further beauty to this musical rose.

The Comforter boldly mixes energetic prog-rock with dynamic punk spirit, an experiment that pays off. In contrast, Fade Away turns out to be a rather safe and middle of the road number, not bad by any standards but nothing special either. Fade away indeed.
The quirky St. Tropez, about a group of teenagers on holiday, is a very upbeat synth-rock-pop affair and sonically speaking couldn’t be more 80’s!

The album was produced by Nigel Gray (who also lends his guitar/synth skills to some of the tracks).


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4 stars

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