After winning the 2009 Eurovision Song Contest, Alexander Rybak was naturally a sensation throughout Europe and scored a big hit with his debut album, Fairytales, titled after the prize-winning song.
It's a light album, with less than ten songs and a running time under 40 minutes (not counting bonus material), but this initial showcase of recording material shows promise and should please Rybak fans who enjoy "Fairytale." Like that song, the bulk of the album is written by the 22-year-old violinist, who thoroughly demonstrates not only his songwriting talent but also his talents for musical composition and English-language vocals.
Part of the appeal of Rybak, of course, involves his back-story.
Recounted many times, the story begins in 1987, when he was born in Minsk to musically inclined parents, the father a classical violinist, the mother a classical pianist.
At four years old, Rybak and his family moved from Minsk, then part of the Soviet Union, to Norway.
He began playing piano at the age of five and began studies at the Barratt Due Institute of Music in Oslo at the age of ten.
A little over ten years later he made Eurovision history when, as the representative of Norway, he garnered 387 points, the highest tally ever.
In the wake of his history-making Eurovision win, Rybak began working with a few different producers and came up with the nine songs comprising Fairytales.
The title track, with its memorable violin refrain, was a chart-topping smash hit in a half-dozen countries across Europe.
The follow-up singles "Funny Little World" and "Roll with the Wind" were less successful but stand out as album highlights all the same.
"Funny Little World" addresses Rybak's newfound fame with a sunny set of lyrics, and the song is almost entirely free of violin, driven instead by acoustic guitar and a light drum track.
On the other hand, violin figures prominently in "Roll with the Wind," the lively album opener with a Celtic air, one of only two songs not credited to Rybak's pen.