Review Summary: One of my all time favourite pop albums.
Playing My Game by Lene Marlin
For those of you that don't know about Lene Marlin, think late '90s, think radio and think "Unforgivable Sinner", which was her major breakthrough in 1998. That single was also the reason the album sold 1, 8 million copies worldwide. The single was also the fastest selling single in the history of her home country, Norway. This was he 26-year old Norwegian singer/songwriter's debut and since then she have released two more albums, but none of them were even close to the success of this album. For those interested in soccer, she is related to Blackburn Rover's Morten Gamst Pedersen. (My favorite Premier League team!). (Does he play in Tottenham nowadays?)
1) Sitting Down Here
One of the released singles which also got lots of plays on the radio. The song opens up with Lene's voice followed by a very catchy acoustic guitar. The song turns slowly down towards the first verse but becomes more upbeat again at the chorus. In difference to mostly all of the songs on this album, this song doesn't really sound dark and sad, although the lyrics still is kind of sad. It's a decent opening song and Lene's singing is simply amazing.
2) Playing My Game
The title track on this album is a very mellow and sad one. A picking acoustic guitar and Lene's whispering voice in the verse singing the very dark lyrics. The song is not very upbeat and shouldn't be the lyrics works very well with the acoustic guitar and the "drum"-clicking behind. The song also features a cool acoustic guitar solo. Only complaint on this song might be unnecessary long outro.
3) Unforgivable Sinner
The greatness in this song lays mixture between some great emotional lyrics and good mixing with acoustic and electric guitars. The song really hooks you after a few listens and still are catchy even though the lyrics still are dark. It opens up really upbeat but still has the sentimental touch all of her song has, at least on me. The verse is basically made up of Lene's voice, some light drumming and some occasionally muted guitar riffs, might sound a little empty in your ears when I speak about it, but listen to it and you will notice what Lene's singing is doing with the verses, truly amazing stuff.
4) Flown Away
Another really mellow tune. This opens up with a soft piano which has a really sleep-friendly impact; actually the whole song sounds like a lullaby. Don't get me wrong, it's not so boring you fall asleep to it, it's just very beautiful. The lack of background instruments gives Lene a real moment to show what an amazing singer she is and she really delivers. The song features a "fake-ending" which is rather sad, 'cause the last part hade been really great without it.
5) The Way We Are
The album rides along on the piano theme from the previous song and continues with a little more upbeat song, but still mellow. Lene's singing is much stronger here, at least in the chorus. The verses are more mellow and soft but still more upbeat than "Flown Away". The song is decent, but it's still one of Lene's weakest moments on this album. I?ve heard an acoustic version of this song once, featuring Lene and just a piano, that version was way better. The lyrics could have been better also.
6) So I See
All right, the piano theme is left behind here luckily. This one starts of very sudden and very very upbeat. As in many of her songs, it's turned down towards the verse so her voice can be heard loud and clear, this is truly at her advantage. The chorus is a bit disappointing but the verses and especially the second one with Lene almost screaming at the end of it makes up for it quite well. The interlude in the middle with a piano solo followed by Lene singing very strong is a real highlight.
7) Maybe I'll Go
One of the darkest songs on this album. Very very emotional lyrics that really touch you. Possibly one of Lene's most well written songs. The first verse is just fantastic:
Originally Posted by Lene Marlin
You think you've made it everything is going so fine
But then appears someone who wanna
Tear you down
Wanna rip you off those few nice things you've found
When and if you hit the ground.
Then it's falling kinda hard
Cause all you do is being yourself
Trying everything to succeed somehow.
But that's not the way things are right now.
Feeling kinda lost.
The song is really slow and works very well; the music reminds very much of "Playing My Game" but still sounds a little darker. As usual the song is driven by Lene's voice, some background sounds, an acoustic guitar-riff from time to time and some piano notes.
8) Where I'm Headed
Opens up with a effect making the intro sounding like it's fading in from a radio without any bass. When it has faded in the bass is put back on accompanied by Lene doing some background singing with echo-effect on, all of this driven by a guitar. As we're used to the verses consists simply of Lene again and a small synth behind and occasionally some guitar backup. Lene's singing is kind of fast which makes this one of the more upbeat songs. For once, the lyrics are quite hard to understand which not usually is Lene Marlins trademark.
9) One Year Ago
Opens up with a funky guitar intro and Lene singing/whispering slow. Another guitar comes in after a while which adds a nice depth. The chorus is more upbeat and is the highlight of this love song. The lyrics are written in a cool way, covering two people?s feelings where she doesn't take anyone's side. The song ends with an electric guitar solo, in a good way.
10) A Place Nearby
Possibly the saddest song on this album, covering the feelings when someone passed away. The song features almost only Lene singing, the exception being the "clicking-drum-sound" and a piano playing soft in the background. Together with "Maybe I'll Go" this track is easiest to attach emotions to and become sentimental. Man, I would like this song to be played at my funeral! The lyrics by Lene are truly wonderful and will almost cause a tear to fall from your eyes from time to time. A Place Nearby simply means heaven.
All right, this album isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy some emotional and sentimental pop from time to time and want to hear a great female singer, go check this one out. If you like deep and very standout lyrics continue to look. Playing My Game is a simple, accessible pop album for those who wanna get a little soft sometimes. It's not your average pop album and it definitely is one of my favourite records in the pop genre and Lene Marlin is my favourite female singer.