Sia - Some People Have REAL Problems
Review by Jack Foley
IT’S almost a paradox that Sia’s new album should be called Some People Have REAL Problems, for it only takes a couple of listens to realise that the singer herself has very few.
The Australian emigre and beloved Zero 7 collaborator has delivered another enchanting long-player that demonstrates just how much she is growing as a solo artist in her own right. If 2002’s Healing Is Difficult and 2004’s Colour The Small One prompted the likes of Esquire to write “a thing of rare beauty”, then album number three is nothing short of heart-melting in quality.
Sia’s voice has always had the capacity to warm the cockles on even the greyest day. Whether softly purring to the likes of Zero 7’s seminal When It Falls or the Grammy nominated The Garden, or seducing in solo form on Breathe Me (featured to such memorable effect in the final episode of Six Feet Under), she is an utterly beguiling artist.
Some People Have REAL Problems marks another step forward in her musical career – and an impressive one at that. It’s been recorded with some notable friends, too, including Beck (who appears on Academia), Turin Brakes (who helped to co-write) and Jimmy Hogarth (of Corinne Bailey Rae and Amy Winehouse fame), who produced.
The highlights are plentiful. Academia, of course, stands out immediately, thanks to the presence of Beck. Beginning with a playful, almost child-like melody, it then drops the delicious line “you can be my alphabet and I will be your calculator”, before easing into an utterly brilliant duet for the chorus. Dig the line, “I am a dash, you are a dot, when will you see that I’m all you got”.
It’s followed by an utterly seductive cover version of The Pretenders’ classic I Go To Sleep, which justifies many of the vocal comparisons that have been made between Sia (at times) and Chrissie Hynde. Thanks to the subtle blend of violin and piano, this is another classic interpretation in its own right, and one to dance away the hours with a loved one to.
Earlier on the LP is the jazzy, and deeply melodic, Lentil, which gives that remarkable voice another classy workout (this time filled with love and yearning), the warm Day Too Soon, which makes some good use of guitar and features another dreamy vocal turn (especially during the lovely chorus), and the gutsy The Girl You Lost To Cocaine, which marks one of the boldest tracks on the LP and another welcome change of pace, as if to underline the diversity and confidence of the LP as a whole.
Further highlights include Soon We’ll Be Found, which provokes comparisons to both Amy Winehouse and Nelly Furtado before blossoming into its own distinct style, the folksy and hopelessly cute Electric Bird, the stripped back and effortlessly tender Lullaby and the hidden final track Buttons, a former single release that brings things to a close on an upbeat pop note.
The overall result? An album that kickstarts 2008 in style, that ought to become one of its biggest sellers!
Download picks: Academia, I Go To Sleep, Lullaby, Day Too Soon, Buttons, Day Too Soon, Electric Bird