Ida Maria Fortress 'Round My Heart

Having established herself in Scandinavia, as well as the UK, the now Stockholm-based Norwegian Ida Maria Sivertsen hits North America with her year-old debut album. Fortress 'Round My Heart is just the sort of strapping, carbonated pop album to keep her career blooming all over. As European singer-songwriters ape neo soul/R&B and new wave for what they're worth, Ida Maria counterbalances without any frills, just some uncomplicated rock'n'roll that allows her to utilize one big, unbridled personality. Her voice, which matches the suave confidence of Chrissie Hynde and the reckless, inebriated call of Courtney Love, never limits itself, sometimes pushing to the brink of failure, whether screaming her heart out or softening up for one of the two slow ones. Ida Maria's strongpoint though is her songwriting — there is a reason why six tracks from Fortress have been released as singles. Her adeptness for sing-along hooks is almost ridiculous, be it through blasphemizing throughout "Oh My God" or telling her lover that she likes them so much better when they're naked. Though she's on course for an arena-filling career, I can't help but wonder what these songs would sound like a bit less refined, with some grit to match that big personality of hers. (Deep Rush)