Review By Woody
New Swedish melodic rock band Sweet Mary Jane have some very experienced musicians in their ranks and Winter In Paradise is their debut album. It’s full on traditional sounding melodic rock with lots of loud keyboards and melodic guitar licks. Their smooth soft rock has a mixture of traditional Scandi melodic rock and splashes of Survivor, Journey and that eighties American AOR sound. It’s produced by Lars Chriss who has done some outstanding behind the scenes work with many melodic rock bands of late and yet again he has given this album a great shine and smooth production, The SMJ guys should be very happy with how he has helped present their songs.
Winter In Paradise is an enjoyable collection of songs, it’s very pleasant and easy to listen to but it’s not quite a dynamite album. It may not be an earth-shattering record but it is a fine and impressive debut album and I look forward to more music from them in the future!
Sweet Mary Jane vocalist Tomas is the brother of genre legend Steffan Berggren of Snakes In Paradise fame, their voices aren’t similar though both having different flavours to their tone and delivery. I was really impressed with Berggren’s smooth voice which suits this style of rock perfectly adding an extra layer of silk to the songs polished sheen. Something that frequently stands out for me is Keyboardist Tomas Nasslin’s contributions, many of his prominent keyboard licks get right under my skin and for me his performances increases the overall impact of the songs on me.
On the whole Winter In Paradise can be very moody, atmospheric and have a touch of darkness to it – it’s not bleak, far from it, but it does have a cold tone at times, so the album title seems very fitting to me!
While I did enjoy the album from my initial play it is an album that benefits from repeated listens. I found that it made the songs have an increasingly better impression on me. I also picked up on other bits and pieces in the songs that I initially missed giving me a deeper appreciation of the songs and the musical talents of the band especially the Keyboardist and Guitarist Per Olof Asberg.
‘Madeleine’ is commercial and radio friendly with a potent sing along chorus. ‘Fire In Your Eyes’ has prominent Keyboards and a wonderful guitar lick, the chorus has a melancholic touch and is extremely memorable. I love the pumping synths on ‘Surrender’, it has a killer chorus which is totally addictive. The guitars give the song a real drive that push the songs impact deeper into you.
Beautiful mid-tempo ballad ‘Angel Of Mine’ has some really touching vocal melodies and a strong chorus that sticks with you. ‘Carry On’ features pumping synths and great guitar licks and it’s sweeping chorus has a bittersweet feel to it.
Winter In Paradise is an album that should please and be enjoyed by AOR and Melodic Rock fans even though it may not set the underground scene on fire. If you like atmospheric and moody soft rock this is definitely one for you to check out!
Track Listing: Fire In Your Eyes / No Retreat, No Surrender / Winter In Paradise / Madeleine / Miracle / Carry On / Angel Of Mine / Surrender / Keep The Fire Burning / Don’t Be Too Late
Album Rating: 7/10
Woody’s Essential Track: Surrender
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