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Sweet Mary Jane - 'Winter In Paradise' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/66/2a/f9/sweet-mary-jane-Winter-in-paradise-42-1495910394.jpg Hot

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Good, solid and engaging songs that will get stuck in your head for some time to come.

It appears the tsunami of Scandinavian musicianship is showing no signs of abating. Here we have an inaugural album that, without question, sets the bar high for the year ahead, and one which immediately puts pressure on future releases that are sure to follow.

Founded in 2012, Sweet Mary Jane hail from Sundsvall, Sweden, and are not to be confused with the Dutch Blues Rock trio of the same name. Sweet Mary Jane's band members Tomas Berggren (vocals), Per-Olaf Åsberg (lead guitar), Tomas Nässlin (guitar, keys), Alexander Olsson (bass guitar) and Andreas Sparby (drums) have fashioned an album that harnesses both commercial catchiness and resolute Rockiness throughout the ten tracks on offer. 'Winter In Paradise' doesn't reinvent the wheel, there is no fancy Fender fret-work frolicking here. However, what this album does do is supply the listener with good, solid and engaging songs that will get stuck in your head for some time to come.

Opener 'Fire In Your Eyes' perfectly illustrates what this band is all about; a mid-tempo vibe, melancholy vocals, crunching guitars and a keyboard underlay that juxtaposes a silkiness throughout. 'No Retreat, No Surrender', 'Winter In Paradise', 'Surrender' and 'Keep The Fire Burning' are all of a similar breed. Yes, they are songs that have been executed a thousand times over by bands who successfully populate the middle ground of Melodic Rock, but when they are delivered with such proficiency, the listening experience is pure unadulterated bliss.

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The highlights for me are 'Madeleine' and 'Carry On'; the former an exquisite piece of commercial Pop Rock that will have you singing along from the second spin onwards, the latter, however, is a mid/up-tempo affair that richly merits airplay on every Rock radio station – it has a chorus to die for! My only grievance with '...On' is the lazy fade-out (Jeez... I hate fade-outs!). The slower numbers are strategically placed and both 'Miracle' and 'Angel Of Mine' are more than worthy of their inclusion (get your lighters... erm, phones at the ready). Closing the album is 'Don't Be Too Late', an energetic up-tempo ditty that leaves you craving more.

'Winter In Paradise' maybe riddled with clichés, both lyrically and musically, but who cares when you get this much gratification from forty minutes. I for one am already looking forward to their sophomore effort.

Dave Crompton

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