It has been 5 years since Norway pop import duo M2M smashed their way into the US. A bad album sales-wise and gettind dropped by their label, the duo is now in music history. But for Marion Raven, it's just beginning again. Given new life with a recording contract of her own, she's set to take the US by storm once again (you need to go to Europe and Asia to find her actual debut on Atlantic Records).
Her US debut, 'Set Me Free,' set to debut sometime this summer is a collection of 11 alt-pop/rock tracks, which has a sound combination similar to pre-'Girlfriend' Avril Lavigne and current Kelly Clarkson with touches of Amy Lee, Pink, and Alanis Morissette, a marked turnaround from the bubblegum pop her former duo M2M did. The Avril Lavigne comparisons are just about right, Marion's voice resembles a bit like hers but it has a much more darker edge.
The mood gets set immediately with 'Set Me Free,' which builds almost similar to Kelly Clarkson's 'Since You've Been Gone...' but it ends right there with an edgy and slightly dark chorus line. 'Falling Away' is one of the more radio-friendly track on the set and won't be surprised that it wil do well on a Top 40 chart sometime soon. 'Crawl' starts with a haunting piano line and builds up to a frenzied crescendo into the chorus line; the song is basically about a girl breaking up with a guy, quite relatable for anyone in that position, guy or girl.
The middle 4 tracks in the album probably for this reviewer were the best overall section from her. The middle 4 starts with the guitar-driven 'Here I am,' but the song I felt was paced by the brief and ethereal violin-driven line 'Here I am!' The tone in 'Thank You for Loving For Me' is quite obvious, but she displays a lyrical sense rarely seen by anyone truly breaking free from bubblegum pop (only Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore and Justin Timberlake comes to mind). I really liked the middle part of the song with the electric going with a brief but satisfying solo lick. On '13 Days,' Marion goes Amy Lee on the listener, truly touching her ethereal, dark side; the song is accentuated by the rising violin line, punching guitars and the piano in the background, a Lee staple in her music with Evanescence. 'Break You' is a song that should be exactly where Avril Lavigne should be standing right now, although for some reason I found the beginning of the first verse and second verse a bit hokey with that clap line. Personally I think its overused by everyone in music. This song is ye another breakup song, although this one punches the soul much faster and better than the comparatively slower and softer 'Crawl.'
Outside of the fun, rollicking, but rather weak 'Heads Will Roll,' (despite the song co-penned by Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx) the last three tracks are the longest tracks on the album. 'For You I'll Die' is a poetically piano-driven
4+ minute song and on an individual song by song basis, probably the best individual song period on the album. The lyrics are extremely poetic and deep, driving the song. The album ends with the fun and rollicking 'All I Wanna Do Is You,' a seeming small tribute to some of the best woman rockers like Joan Jett and Pat Benatar. A fitting tribute given how many in Marion's place draw their influences from those two. The song grabs you immediately with the rolling bass line at the beginning and has another great electric solo at around the 2:30 mark. The song technically ends at 3:05 and at the 3:50 mark, Marion goes into a very biting (to say the least) song just about her ex-boyfriend's new girl...I won't spoil the details but all I can say is...ouch to the infinity. But if it were an individual track on the album, this definitely would be the best. It is Marion stripped down with just an acoustic guitar, her voice, and a mic.
Overall, I think there's room for Marion to join Kelly and Avril in who would like to be the next great woman rocker. Marion does profess publicly that 'Set Me Free' is virtually 11 tracks about her ex-boyfriend and its quite evident at the 3:50 mark of the last track, which has to be the most biting commentary of a relationship I have ever heard. The slant puts an overall dark edge to Marion and it works well most of the time. Outside of the rather weak 'Heads Will Roll' and a slightly slick production, the album works and should be a great seller in stores when it comes out.
Name: Set Me Free
Label: Eleven Seven Music/10th Street
Release Date: July 24, 2007
My rating: 4.0 out of 5
Alan Ho is the chief head of Musiqtone. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org