Throughout her twelve-year career, Sanna Nielsen has always seemed like a great singer in search of a truly great song. In 2008 she finally found one: "Empty Room," her fifth Melodifestivalen entry in a decade, and her first in English, is a stunning ballad that makes up for some clumsy lyrics with a wonderfully passionate vocal performance and an effective arrangement somewhat redolent of the best of the AC ballads that the likes of Roxette and Celine Dion dominated the airwaves with in the 90s. The song shocked everyone by first defeating power duo Carola Häggkvist & Andreas Johnsson in the heats, and then going on to win the all-important public vote against the much-fancied Charlotte Perrelli in the grand finals. Perrelli was far enough ahead of the jury votes that she went to Eurovision anyway but Nielsen had her first truly career defining hit on her hands, and was finally in a position to cement her status as one of Sweden's finest popular vocalists.
Stronger has clearly been crafted with these ambitions in mind. In addition to being Nielsen's first album in English, it is also clearly aimed at a younger market than her last album, Nära Dig, Nära Mig. Likely second single "Nobody Without You" contains hints of Kelly Clarkson with its prominent guitar riff and angst-ridden lyrics. Other tracks such as "I Believe It's You" and "But I Know What I Want" are enjoyable slices of the kind of upbeat guitar pop that Natasha Bedingfield has made her name with. Like Bedingfield, Nielsen has a wholesome, family friendly image, and she's a better singer to boot. There's no reason why several songs on this album couldn't take flight well beyond the confines of the Swedish pop scene given the right push. A veteran at just 23 years of age, Nielsen has finally emerged as a star with significant potential.