Eurovision and National Final stars were releasing albums from left, right and centre, but there is only one album which can be our number one. The top spot goes to a singer we love to love here on Eurovision Union, and it may come as no surprise to hear his name once again. This certain singer has not yet made it to the Eurovision stage, but as a national finalist twice, this singer has won a spot in our hearts. If you haven’t guessed already, it’s Finland’s Mikael Saari who dazzled us in 2016 with his ironically named album, The Grand Letdown.
Pure excitement oozed out when I found out that Mikael would be releasing his debut album this year, especially knowing it would feature some of our previously released, and favourite tracks, along with a selection of new tracks to bring joy to our ears. The album was released on the 6th of May by Luomusic Records.
The album begins with an incredibly brief taster of what’s to come through the first track, appropriately named Intro. From there, a new track titled You Shall Be My Wife. The song introduces the symphonic sounds that we will continue to hear throughout the album – one of the most charming elements of Mikael’s work.
From there, there’s C’est La Vie, a previously released track which has had a bit of a facelift, and is one of the more playful songs on the album. The subsequent track, titled Storms, is a personal highlight of The Grand Letdown. The song has an incredible blend of emotion evoking lyrics with a magical musical backing. The song crescendos in such an interesting way, starting with an almost tinkering of the instruments, and ending with the power of Mikael’s expressive vocals.
The next song is no stranger to my ipod. Fans of Mikael Saari will recognise this song as his most recent entry into the Finnish Eurovision national final competition, UMK. On It Goes is similar to the previous song in that Mikael very successfully utilises a slow build up within his songs, and he really knows how to use the backing instruments to add feeling to his already melancholic lyrical content.
The next track, titled Revontuli, offers us a mid-album refresher through an enchanting instrumental piece. At no point in the song are you craving vocals, as the instruments provide the story. You are taken aback by the collection of sounds building over the four minutes, with an intriguing mixture of major and minor notes.
After the instrumental piece, it almost feels like we are returning to a part 2 of the album, and the next track titled Dialogue throws us back into that emotional rollercoaster. The song features Stina Koistinen, whose voice pairs with Mikael’s flawlessly. The finale of Dialogue sounds quite chaotic but in an intentional, seamless manner.
You Should Have Seen Us is a previously released track which contrasts well with the previous track. This song has a lighter sound, however don’t be fooled by the vibe given off by the music, as the song seems to tell a tale of a decaying relationship, and is quite sad in nature.
The following track is a cover of the Queen song Save Me. You would think, there’s no way anyone could cover a Queen song and do it justice, however Mikael’s voice suits this song so well. He still maintains that same impact in the choruses, and the song is still very much recognisable as Queen.
Another personal highlight lies within the track, We Should Be Through, which was the song which pushed Mikael into the Eurovision spotlight. He entered this as part of the competition UMK, and was a certain winner – except that it didn’t (a missed opportunity, no doubt). The song has had a bit of a makeover, only making it better (if that was even possible!). Again, similar to On It Goes, Mikael really knows how to start low, and build to such heights over the length of the song. The beginning of the song is delicate and simplistic, which we see intertwined with huge bursts of voice and symphony.
She’s Gone is yet another contrast on the album. The song is dark and gloomy, deep, yet feels quite monotone. It then transcends into an instrumental break, which continues with the melancholy feel of the song. Pray for My Soul follows from this nicely, as it almost feels as a continuation of the themes of the previous song. The strings in this song are impeccable once again, and give a wholesome feel to the track.
Lastly, but definitely not least is another instrumental titled Kaipuuvalassi. Similar to Revontuli, this is a track that you can enjoy without feeling the desire to hear lyrics. The piano is almost haunting in the melody it plays, which crescendos and decrescendos over the track. Just as you think the track is over, you hear a silence but again, don’t be fooled. If you continue on, you’ll find a hidden track, the last say for Mikael on his debut album. His final words,
‘It’s so easy to be a singer of songs, so hard to be a man’
The album is an emotional, and a musical rollercoaster. I think this album was expertly put together, and is a testament to Mikael as an artist, and his team who ultimately worked to create such a masterpiece. This album is absolutely not a grand letdown, instead, in contrast, this is easily one of the best collections of songs I’ve come across, especially now in a time of such repetitive, cookie-cutter music. Every song has its place on the album, and every sound has its purpose. I simply cannot recommend this album enough.