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ISSA - Crossfire

ISSA - CD Review




CD Info
Frontier Records
11 Tracks
English Lyrics

After a three year hiatus, the melodic rock goddess from Norway, Issa Oversveen, also known as ISSA, is releasing her fourth album called Crossfire. This album is a must for melodic rock fans with its classic guitar solos, heavy layered keyboards, and her sweet voice. The international guest soloists, both vocal and instrumental are a definite bonus. Overall, by far, this is ISSA best album which Frontier Records calls it a mix of “Roxette meets Romeo’s Daughter melted with 80s Heart.”

ISSA started her singing career when she was seventeen, as a demo singer. From 2010 through 2012, she released three solo albums. They are Sign of Angels (2010), The Storm (2011), and Can’t Stop (2012). Crossfire is produced by John Greatwood (VEGA) and keyboardist James Martin also from VEGA. Work actually began in 2013 and with a collection of songs that were a result of collaboration with the Martin brothers. ISSA states it this way:

“After 5 years of working together with Tom and James, we had come up with a collection of songs I had to keep for myself.''

Besides vocalist ISSA, and keyboardist James Martin, there are two other members in the band. Drums are handled by Michael Cruise, while Tom Martin plays the bass and guitars. In addition, there are a plethora of international guest musicians. They include guitarists Daniel Palmqvist (XORiGIN), Steve Newman (NEWMAN), Robert Sall (WORK OF ART), Daniel Johansson (DEGREED), and Stephen Chesney. In addition, Alessandro Del Vecchio (HARDLINE) is a guest on keyboards. Helping to round out the great choral sound are Pete Newdeck (IN FAITH/TAINTED NATION), Matt Black (FAHRAN) and Michael Kew (VEGA). One other bonus is the duet with guest vocalist Steven Overland (FM). ISSA says this about the duet:

''This was a dream come true for me, Steve Overland is probably my favourite male singer and to get him on board was a true honour, his voice suits the song perfectly, wait till you hear this one!!”

The tone for this album is set with the opening track, “Crossfire,” the same name as the album. Following a drum set lead in, the steady pulsating beat is set with the drums, guitar and keys. ISSA enters with strong vocals that have a slight bit of reverb. Within the song, there is a nice guitar solo and a synthesized ascending run in the keys. The pace of the song doesn’t let up at all and the catch phrase is “caught in the crossfire.” There is a video for this song which can be seen here.

On the opposite side of the rock spectrum is “New Horizon,” a ballad that is both expressive and moody. The song opens with somber chords from the keys followed by repeated synthesized staccato notes. Besides a steady beat and an extended guitar solo, this song features a choral background that adds to the overall effect of the song. At times there is a slight call and response between ISSA and the chorus. Toward the end of the song, there is a nice dialogue between the guitar and the chorus.

“Raintown,” another soft ballad is a special song. ISSA performs a duet with guest vocalist Steve Overland and this song almost made my favorite for the album. After opening with a piano solo, Steve opens the vocal part and the dialogue then begins between the two singers. What makes this song different is that the phrases are extended and the two voices mesh together very well. They show their expressive, vocal abilities throughout the song. After another guitar solo and key change, the voices continue their vocal prowess with the extended phrasing until the ending played by the piano.

The guest vocalists make up the chorus in the rock anthem, “Heartbeat.” This song opens with ISSA and the chorus before the guitar and drums kick in with a medium length intro. The verses are sung by her over the steady drum and light keyboards. The song builds slightly into a repeated chorus, and then followed by a guitar solo. The phrase that is constantly repeated throughout the song is “miss you in a heartbeat.”

“Electric Lights” is a rock song with attitude. This song opens with synthesized keys and drums. There is a unique, different beat to this song. The vocals come across stronger, with attitude expressed in the lyrics. The guitar is primarily in the background, and the solo that appears in each song, here is played on a synthesizer.

The song, “Ghost Inside My Heart,” is a harder rock ballad with lots of keyboard and drums. ISSA’s vocals are often accompanied with a chorus. Interspersed at different times are a cappella vocals which give a nice effect. The vocals lines stretch with the lyrics, but the effect is pleasant. The instrumental solo is nicely played as a bridge between the verses.

My favorite song is “Only You,” another rock ballad. What makes the song appeal to me is how even with a driving rock beat provided by the drums, ISSA’s voice flows effortlessly over the instruments. The song opens with an ostinato played by the keys and then joined by the drums. ISSA enters over a steady rock beat and the keys provide a full harmonic texture. Later a soft guitar provides a short countermelody. There is a longer sequence filled in with various instrumental solos. The lyrics are appealing as well, and it is definitely clear that the writer of the song is enamored with another individual.

Crossfire is definitely ISSA’s best album so far. With the mixture of 80s rock and modern technology, this album is a must for melodic rock fans. Followers of ISSA will definitely want this album in their collection. With the layering of the keyboards, loads of guitars, and outstanding vocals, help make this album stand out in melodic rock. The international guest musicians, both instrumental and vocal, only add to the overall sound. More information concerning ISSA can be found at the following link: