REVIEW: Anja Nissen moves beyond the power ballad with multi-genre EP “Where I Am”

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During Eurovision 2017 she wowed audiences with her impressive vocal performance of “Where I Am“, taking Denmark back to the Grand Final after two years of early eliminations.

And now that Anja Nissen has laid down her armour and we’ve learned where she is, we thought it was a good time to have a listen to her EP, which dropped in early May.

Anja released the extended play — named Where I Am after her DMGP winning song — on May 5, while we were busy covering Eurovision rehearsals. The EP hasn’t achieved much chart success. But summer is long and we like to fill our days with new music, so perhaps it’s time to give it a chance all these weeks later.

Anja co-wrote all six of the tracks that appear on Where I Am along with a number of other songwriters that include Brian Kierulf, who worked with the likes of Britney Spears, 50 Cent, Lady Gaga and Mike Posner, and X Factor Australia alumna Angel Tupai. Anya has said that all of the songs, particularly “Where I Am”, carry personal significance for her, as they each capture a moment of her personal or professional journey.

Anja explained the meaning of the title track to Universal Music Australia ahead of the EP’s release. She said:

“The song is about letting go, particularly in relationships — breaking down the emotional walls and letting you give love and receive love.”

Where I Am opens with “Drive“, which starts as a midtempo ballad, but soon transforms into an electropop banger. Anja works a low register in the opening bars, before taking it higher, all the while singing of the pain and torment that can come with love and longing. “Life goes on when you’re gone, but I hate it,” she says with plenty of sincerity. “Lying down on the floor, missed you baby.”

The second song “Anything You Want” continues the style of the opening track, but spices things up with a breakbeat flair. These tracks are relatively pared back vocally, paving the way for Anja’s Eurovision ballad “Where I Am”, where she’s allowed to play vocal gymnastics and show off the power and range that helped her win The Voice of Australia in 2014.

Tears Ago” changes the vibe completely, moving away from TV show power ballad and toward something contemporary, fresh and clubby. A clever play on “years ago”, the title suggests she’s marked the passage of time with pain. Thankfully the EDM beat gives her plenty of drive to move on. The electrorock-influenced “Before You Were Cool” — reminiscent of Girls Aloud‘s earlier records and Rachel Stevens in her Come and Get It era — features bratty lyrics about a boy who has worked his way into her head. It’s fresh, funky and just a little throwback. It’s also one of the highlights of the EP and shows a grittier Anja, which we really enjoy.

Where I Am closes with “Empire“, an electropop song about love that withstands it all. Anja channels a bit of Christina Aguilera and her 2012 hit “Your Body”. It’s an optimistic conclusion to an EP that showcases Anja’s range and willingness to experiment. Long may it continue.

Where I Am on Spotify

What do you think about Where I Am? Does Anja still have something to show you or should she put her armour back on? Tell us in the comments section below!

Buy the Where I Am EP on iTunes

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