‘Something That I Said’-
Nothing that you would expect from looking or reading about her, will be true. Maltese-born artist has a desire to be remembered.
Availability: ‘Something That I Said’ is available via http://soundcloud.com/brooke-borg
There seems to be something quite special happening within…
the solo market, of the female variety. For us men, we know the score, with regards to the configuration and mandate: one man; one guitar; one Jeff Buckley-cum-Damien Rice voice; lyrics about love, heartache, and the usual fare. It may be an overgeneralizing, but this description applies to about 90% of the material I have heard from the men’s market. Not that there is anything wrong with that, in small measures. There is a definite market for that type of artists, but after it has been done once, what’s the point in hearing it again? Matt Corby is probably the most credible and authoritative male solo artist, who could be considered ‘underground’- he is certainly not a hugely recognised name outside of his native Australia. Above ground, people like Ben Howard are doing a good job to inject mystery and intrigue into the genre. It is not a snooty, dismissive attitude on my part, it just seems to be a saturated market that does not need so many patrons. Unless you have a voice like Antony Hegarty; can write intriguing and oddly poetic numbers, and inject a sense of majesty to the composition, why bother? I can heard an equivocal quality of artistry at Green Park underground station; and I usually just walk past them without blinking. Of course there are the occasional few, whom manage to linger in the mind, but such is the improvidence of the naive type of specimen who enters the scene, that they are largely buried and forgotten about. When it comes to the female market, there seems to be a more sustainable and memorable brand of song, being produced. Don’t get my wrong, with the likes of K$sha are allowed to mew at a microphone tunelessly, all (bizarrely unsettling) image, controversy and scandal; they have no talent, teeth, point or purpose in the music scene. They pertain and appeal to a precocious and uneducated market of pre-teens, who probably don’t know who Aretha Franklin or Janis Joplin are. Music is possibly the only industry in the world, where there is an indiscriminate open market, where everyone is free to play. Although historically the greatest singers ever have been considered male; and it has been the men who traditionally have the greatest technical and, largely, emotive range, it is the women, who are displaying a bombastic facility and relentless fascination.
Take Brooke Borg. To be honest, perhaps an artist I would have normally passed by. Her Twitter account states that ‘nothing is impossible’. Although the statement is factually null, grammatically incorrect, and just plain untrue, it shows less of a literal philosophy, but more of a personal proclamation. Borg has managed to make quite a name for herself, and has an ambition and drive that is hard to ignore, and she has the desire to ride the- rather choppy- musical waters for many a year to come. There is a clandestine mystique and posturing rhetoric to many new artists. If you take away the desire to instantly compare an artists to such-and-such, and hear what they have to say, and what they want from music, it is easier to admire them and root for an eventual victory. There is a lot of male-minded shallowness when it comes to women in music. Brooke Borg may suffer from that, initially. It is hard to get away from the fact that she is beautiful. Not just a little, but breathtakingly so. She is Hollywood glamour and a staggering delicacy to her beauty. It can make hearts flutter, and cause a beatific drool amongst many- not just men- people. In a way many women in music have suffered because of their extraordinary beauty, with many fixation on it, and giving little credence or consideration for their words and voice. It is unfair, but it is not a fate that Borg will suffer. She was born in Malta, and like her colleague, and country mate Chess (Fran Galea), has a similar power, potency and alluring stillness to her voice. She is a skilled pianist, and took up the instrument, possibly in response to her love of jazz, and artists such as Stevie Wonder. Although Malta is possessed of allegorical and mythical beauty, it is not possible,. one would think, to remain there and gain a popularity and fan-base beyond the island itself. Borg relocated to L.A., where she spent a lot of time honing her talents, and making a name for herself. She has won my attention, in spite of the fact that she is ‘influenced’ by a number of rather one dimensional acts. My heart drops and my brain tends to wander when I see- mainly women- say they are ‘inspire by’ or indebted to Rhianna, Katy Perry, or Jessie J. Borg claims to be inspired by these artists, and if one were performing a cursory reading of her Facebook page, and saw those names mingling with Etta James and Michael Jackson, there would be a mixed reaction. If you can pull of a neat track or displaying feathers of Jackson and James, then you have my attention for sure. I can understand why m,any women are in awe of Beyonce– she has an inspiring, or that said misguided and confusing notion and ambition when it comes to being seen as a ‘feminist’, and subsequent attitude to her role within the movement. That is another rant fro another day, because I have a lot of home truths and reasoned arguments for her. Her voice though cannot be argued against. I respect that side of her hugely, and she is as close to a modern-day Etta James or Aretha Franklin, as one could hope for. When it comes to the Perry/Rhianna/J side of things, my face tends to turn puce. Setting aside the fact that between them they have had alarming and distrubing personal lives; Rhianna especially, I am not sure what kind of message they are sending to people. Jessie J seemingly has no sense of quality control when it comes to speaking, and Katy Perry is a plastic raven-haired Barbie doll who is buried under 5ft of make-up. Setting aside their personal proclivities and suspect personalities they are belie and disgrace the memories and reverence of Franklin, James, and Simone. These were women who did not rely on tabloid publicity and a hailstorm of controversy to get them heard. They were intelligent women who knew they were gorgeous, without the need to be hide that cosmetically. Beyond everything, they were the last of a generation who let the music solely do the talking. Although Michael Jackson had a staggeringly controversial private life, he is rightfully seen as one of the most influential and greatest voices of all time. In terms of lyrical ability, stand-out and unique vocal tones and musical talent, there is nothing to recommend about Perry, J and Rhianna. I’ll leave the disgusted rant for another review. Luckily (my bedrock point is), these influences seem to be skin deep, and a primary source of inspiration. Borg is in a different section of the Venn Diagram, with more in common with the soul and pop greats. In an intersection of the opposing and divisive camps, is an intersection of grand quality. This is where Brooke sits, belongs, and will remain- one hopes.
Setting aside, for now, my benighted and qualitative summation of the 21st century female crop, I shall judge Borg on her voice and music alone, and leave the social media details and mixed bag of influence stand alone, and take note. She has been igniting the music scene for over 4 years, and doesn’t need her staggering beauty to do the talking. Beginning its mutation, as a plaintive and gorgeous piano lilt, ‘Something That I Said’ is instantly evocative and draped in nocturnal luminosity. There is a hit of classical Romanticism, with knees-bent ardour. It has touches of Wonder, ‘Off The Wall’-Jackson and Alicia Keys. It is a short passage, but sets a seductive and calm mood; letting you know that whatever follows with regards to vocal prowess, will be augmented by conviction and quality. The voice that arrives is haunted and arresting in equal measures, with corners of soul, pop, jazz and easy listening. It is hard to pin initial influences- as loathed as I am to label- but to my ear there are no direct comparisons. It has its own power and stunning beauty to it. The song talks of broken hearts, and caution: “Take a step back from all around us” is an early pleaded implore. The early chapters build a sense of relationship tension, and questions in need of answers. There is no oblique lyricism or toned-down vocals. The lyrics are direct and to the core, whilst the voice is pure and crystalline. The trope is familiar, thematically, but the combination of an authoritative and superior voice, combined with simple but striking resonancee from the composition, elevates this song beyond any comparable contemporary songs. She is performing a reconnaissance of her situation and decided that she needs to know what happened; was there something that she said., the caused the love “to fall right out of you”. Borg is tremulous with shades of early-Jackson, and a modern air of Keys and Jessie Ware, as well as Laura Mvula. The piano passages need no dysmorphic trickery; it is gorgeously composed and instilled with a cultured, classic edge. As Borg sits alone “in the corners of my mind”, her voice, once more, is passionate and does not let any emotional heavy weather or putrefaction weigh her down. It is elegiac and veritably close to tears, with Borg questioning her nature of trust, vocals rising, employing a darker shade and slight wisp of male gravel. When the chorus hits at the 2:05 mark, the vocal rises and belts, with fond embers of Mariah Carey and Leona Lewis. As the song continues, the uncertainty principles reach Heisenberg levels of fascination. A man has done her wrong, and let her down, and she is curious as to what, and where it went wrong. It is a stable and unflinching party line, and through the employment of sparse but highly effective piano, a constantly engaging and beautiful vocal, questions in my mind are answered, but one wonders, whether Borg will ever know the truth.
I am an anti-Iconiclast when it comes to music. Any negativity or anger from me, comes from a good and educated place. Having been someone raised on, and influenced by the greatest singers, songwriters and bands of all time, any fake or empty talent, does make me wonder why I should bear them any kindness. Music is a market for those willing to put in the hours and come onto the scene with something worth listening to. Doesn’t matter if you can’t play an instrument; so long as your music is on point and you are likeable and a huge talent, that is all you need. With so many solo artists being hugely unlikeable and a God-awful role model for women and men alike, one has to tread cautiously. The problem with social media is that too much can be given away. If you take away the subjectiveness and remove any background information from your view; just judge the music for the music. I was, and have been worried by, some artists’ icons and influences, thinking that their music would be similarly remedial and irritating. If you scrub away and get to the core then you find out the truth, and can judge music on the song itself. I was fascinated by Borg a few months ago. She has the looks of a Greek goddess and could spent the rest of her life in Hollywood if she wanted. She is young but has a maturity and a musical sophisticated that exceeds expectation. She has a maturity and conviction that supersedes and goes beyond what most produce. The lyrics are focused and do not cloy or suffer from cliche or facsimile. Borg has an enormous potential. If she is able to keep the quality consistent, and keep her sound true and undiluted by dubstep, electronics or R ‘n’ B fakeness, then she will be brushing shoulders with the stalwarts of the scene. Listen to her today, read her story, and imagine where she is going to go next. The future is exciting, and so long as she remains more legend than pop puppet, then she will be fighting labels…
fans and venues off with sticks.