The meaningful twist of phrase in the album title Fallin Up suggests a songwriter and musician that’s thinking differently and re-writing the rulebook. Unfortunately, fresh Swedish soul-pop artist Janice restricts the cleverness to the vocabulary in the debut’s name, with the content within lacking any edginess and originality to give it a lingering aftertaste or idiosyncratic identity.
The 13-track introduction to Sony Music’s latest signing begins in a misleadingly interesting manner, with spoken word dialogue in Janice’s native Swedish tongue within a meditative twinkly aura. It’s soothing and welcoming and if that captivating mood had lasted throughout the album it would have been pleasant.
However, from that point forward Fallin Up contains formulaic songs that are predictable in their song structure – soft piano or a rhythmic finger-clicking pulse in the verses always lead up to soaring swaying hands-in-the-air ballads in the chorus accompanied by gospel backing singers, lush strings and common electronic pop flourishes. Such is their imitativeness, they sound like they’ve been taken straight off an Emelie Sandé or compatriot Seniabo Sey record.
Nonetheless, Janice has characteristics that will surely make her a financial success. She definitely has a talent for singing, as shown throughout her album and recent rendition of the American and Canadian national anthems at an NHL tournament. Her songs are very accessible and it’s easy to imagine them gaining lots of radio airplay – although she needs to cut off the unnecessary explicit content on tracks such as ‘Queen’ and ‘Enough’ to give herself a better chance.
She has a personality that’s a good human equilibrium of self-confidence and vulnerability which modern pop fans like and lyrics about love that are so honest and universally understood it will resonate with fans in the same way as Adele. Refreshingly, she also shows a balance of criticism and complimentary comments about past relationships, which contemporary pop acts sometimes lack.
Most importantly, Janice is unafraid to show extreme desperation in love (“I’ll make a deal with the devil. Anything I got to do get back your love” from ‘Love You Like I Should’) and a struggle through life after a death in the family (“Daddy, I feel so lost. Wish you could hear my song. It’s been four years without you” from ‘Answer’).
The lyrics attempt to give positive motivation in the darkest of times, to “fall up” like the record’s title conveys, by transitioning from hitting rock bottom on the album’s best track, ‘Black Lies‘ to appreciating what you have on ‘I Got You’ (“As long as we can be together, that’s why I’m reaching out to you).”
Although it has to be said that the majority of the lyrics aren’t that fascinating or memorable and despite performing a style that’s very zeitgeist, there’s a chance that her lack of distinct personality and resembling sound could make her potential disappear among a crowd of other similar artists.
Fallin’ Up is released on 19th January through Sony.