Issa — Another World (Frontiers)

In an exclusive interview with Rushonrock in 2011, an energised and impassioned Issa revealed her roots were firmly planted in the 80s.

It was music to our ears.

Hot on the heels of the previous year’s debut album — rich in promise if a bit rough around the edges — she was hard at work on the follow-up with Tom and James Martin.

And Issa told us: “I love the big female rock singers of the 80s and that’s the sound I’m aiming for with the next record.

“I want to be in that company but I know I have a long, long way to go.”

In truth, it’s taken the honey-tongued Norwegian 13 years and another seven albums but she’s finally realised her dream and fulfilled her potential.

At its most melodic and majestic, Another World is every bit as good as peak Robin Beck, Pat Benatar and commercially-focused Heart.

The Martin brothers are back steering Issa towards AOR perfection and their production job is peerless.

Compared to 2023’s Lights Of Japan — or the patchy mid-career misses Crossfire and Run With The Pack— Another World is on a different planet.

It’s a giant leap forward for a singer who always seemed destined to become the next Janet Gardner, Lorraine Lewis or Lisa Dominique.

And for those soaking up Bon Jovi’s must-see Disney+ documentary this is like listening to Jon’s sister from another mother.

Issa has spent the last decade toying with harder rock and veering away from those AOR roots.

But Another World is her spiritual home. This is the real deal.

Another World is another level

Formerly of Rushonrock-approved Brit rockers Vega, Tom and James Martin know a thing or two about crafting sugar-coated melodic rock.

And in Issa they’ve long since identified the perfect vehicle for their chorus-driven, dreamy AOR.

Keysman James’s fingerprints are all over Another World — whether leading from the front on the supreme Richard Marx-fuelled Only In The Dark or adding more subtle layers to the more powerful material here.

And with the Martins in the house, Issa sounds unstoppable.

This already sounds like the record we’ve been waiting for all year — certainly the album we’ve been longing to hear from Issa since 2010’s debut.

It begs the question: what’s taken so long? Only Issa knows but let’s just say ‘late bloomer’ is a tag she wears extremely well right now.

Another World is on another level.

Got A Hold On Me kicks off with a Stock, Aitken and Waterman-esque pop punch and sounds very much like True Blue-era Madonna.

But that’s no bad thing.

Back in the day Madge regularly jostled for position in the Top 40 with the pop rock of Richard Marx, Don Henley and Belinda Carlisle.

And this throwback to the decade that never disappointed is a heartfelt nod to that golden era — a power ballad par excellence.

There are plenty more highlights: single Armed And Dangerous is a blast and The Road To Victory a melodic rock triumph.

Another World is good enough to land Issa on the global stage.

Better late, than never.