Review: Floor Jansen – Paragon
ReVamp Music (March 24th, 2023)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
Current Nightwish vocalist Floor Jansen has branched out from her metal roots to embrace a side of her that she has never expressed before. This is a true solo endeavor, tapping into musical genres far removed from what has come before. She worked with songwriter/producer Gordon Groothedde and musician Wouter Hardy to craft an album that strays far from her norm. Synths, violins, programmed rhythms along with a pop sensibility to guitars and piano showcase the varied styles she wanted to explore with this release.
To ease fans into this change in direction, I would suggest going straight to the song ‘Come Full Circle’, her most accessible track to what came before and the most “rocking” song on the album. Its position on the album is Track 5 but should have opened the album or been placed as the second track. It is far from metallic, but it’s pop rock posturing is incredibly catchy and it’s easily my favorite of the album. I would have liked more moments of passion and fire displayed here to be found elsewhere, but that’s just a minor quip. Floor made it a point to go for a softer approach with this release and this track is an outlier.
Not that the album doesn’t have a good opener. ‘My Paragon’ is my second favorite track and has a great synth drenched chorus that soars thanks to Floor’s vocals. Not as rocking as ‘Come Full Circle’ but certainly an uplifting tempo and message. The album is all about overcoming adversity, with titles like ‘Invincible’, ‘Hope’, and ‘Fire’. Given the health issues currently facing Floor, it’s comforting to think that she’s in a good enough place to create this content and keep a positive outlook.
Other great tracks include the aforementioned ‘Hope’, a mostly acoustic ballad done with a soft, wispy approach that is truly mesmerizing. Her best vocal on the album. ‘Me Without You’ has all of the makings of a James Bond theme song. Prominent percussion, lots of reverb, and sensual vocalizations. All that’s left is for the listener to close their eyes and picture the opening credits of any James Bond movie over the last twenty years and it all falls into place.
The album ends with the moody ballad ‘Fire’. The first single released nearly a year ago opens with simple piano notes but builds slowly into a crescendo of bombast at the second chorus and then weaves back and forth between soft, quiet parts and returns to the bravado before abruptly ending.
There’s a lot of that abruptness going on with this album, which is my only complaint. At a tight 35 minutes, the album is short by today’s standards. No song makes it to the four-minute mark. I didn’t expect six-to-seven-minute tracks a la Nightwish, but I was hoping to hear more. There are no guitar solos on this album and you don’t realize how much you miss them until they’re not there. Despite this, Ms. Jansen has one of those “sing the phonebook” type of voices and it’s great to hear her in a different context. With this release, it comes down to the musical tastes of the audience. You have to approach this album with an open mind. If you do, you will surely appreciate the album for what it is, a well-constructed pop-infused masterwork. This album has a way of reaching mainstream audiences than her previous works and it’s a shame to think this will be dismissed by many based solely on Floor’s history with metal. Don’t make that mistake. These are classy tracks that deserve to be heard.
1. My Paragon
5. Come Full Circle
7. Me Without You
8. The Calm
9. Armoured Wings