Tarja’s Outlanders Project // Outlanders // Album Review
Apparently, I’ve been living under a rock for the last year or so because I knew absolutely nothing about this project at all, but when you hear Tarja’s name along with a list of guitar virtuosos the length of your arm surely you can’t go wrong, or can you?
The first run-through of any new album is always to try and find some comparisons to previous work or influences that may have led the band/group to where they are but nothing prepared me for what was to come here, initially, I was a little shell shocked but then as it was played on rotation it began to grow on me and now I find myself humming or whistling certain parts of different tracks. The most surprising thing is how quickly the Trance and EDM beats that Torsten has put together pull you in and how well they mesh with Tarja’s amazing voice and the brilliant guitar work of each guitarist on their particular track. The chilled, relaxed vibe from the album allows you to unplug from the franticness of everyday life and unwind with an atmospheric otherworldly experience. The twelve tracks on the album flow seamlessly into each other allowing you to totally submerse yourself in the atmospheric ambience they have created, none more so than the opener and title track “Outlanders” which sees Tarja switch between spoken word and haunting harmonies to the enthralling electronic beat and Walter Giardino’s classical and electric guitar work that makes this a brilliant track and sets the tone for the rest of the album.
“Closer To The Sky” has a lighter feel to it and this is reflected in the soaring vocals, pulsing beats and Trevor Rabins’ gripping guitar work. One of the catchiest songs on the album is “The Cruellest Goodbye” Tarja outdoes herself her vocally while Al Di Meola matches her mood with his stunning classical guitar work all set to a trance-inducing beat in the background, this is one of my guilty pleasures and I make no apologies for it. Another track that will grab you is “Mystique Voyage”, with a sense of foreboding it feels as though it has a darker side to it but a rousing EDM beat pulls it back from the brink setting up Steve Rothery to put in a serious shift with some amazing fretwork and giving you one hell of a track. “The Sleeping Indian” for me is a bit of a misnomer as it has more of a cosmic, outer space feel to it which is right up Joe Satriani’s street, sounding like a 70’s tv show with elevated vocals and a funky EDM beat, Satch drops some cool riffs and a mind-bending solo. “Land Of Sea And Sun” is another uplifting track with airy vocals, a rousing beat and some trademark Friedman licks, there is a subtle riff at the start that becomes more pronounced as the track progresses culminating in an amazing solo, a fantastic piece of music. Possibly the best track on the album, for my money, is “We Own The Sky”; a calm, mellow track that features Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal in all his mesmerising glory switching styles from a gentle classical to the swagger of his electric playing all to the backdrop of Tarja’s unreal vocalising and Torsten’s trance-inducing beats, a simply phenomenal track. With “Echoes” you have an islander feel to it with languid beats that wash over you as Tarja floats up and down the scales, Jennifer Batten showcases some of her awesome talents as you are lulled into a peaceful state of mind. The album closes with “A Peaceful Place(Return To The Oasis)”, another track that features the awesome talents of Walter Giardino, a little bit livelier than previous tracks it combines an uptempo EDM beat and some silky fretwork from Giardino, Tarja’s soaring vocals are out of this world once again, a fitting way to close the album.
I was sceptical and maybe a bit cynical when I first got my hands on this but let me tell you I am totally converted now, the combination of styles and the relaxed, chilled ambience just take this album to a whole different level to anything out there at the moment