Waters is available at:
16th June, 2014
The E.P. Waters is available from:
When We– 9.3
Alright Again– 9.4
You for Me– 9.5
Waters; You for Me
TODAY marks a step forward…
and a step back (to an extent). It is good to find a new talent; an artist that genuinely goes beyond the boundaries- a solo act with a tremendous work ethic- someone quite inspirational. The song- and subsequent E.P. – I am reviewing was unveiled last year; one of 2014’a finest- a sign of what is to come. I consider (finding a great new artist) as a step forward; uncovering a great new voice- there are so few about. When it comes to the solo market, there are few really staking their claim; getting inside the head- really standing you to attention. My favourite aspect of music is vocals: finding that set of pipes that makes you smile; compels you to dig deeper- and fall in love. With regards the modern scene, I have to say, I am a bit stumped: a small list forms in mind; few that really do something special (people I have reviewed, no less). Maybe it is this bias- that is enforcing my statements on modern music- yet those stars out there. Those voices that really dig emotionally; project something quite otherworldly- I guess you need to employ luck and hard work. When it comes to my featured artist- and her distinct and remarkable voice- I was tipped by a Facebook friend; led in her direction as it were. Perhaps social media is the way to do things; the best way to stumbled-upon the best music- one wishes the process was easier/less serendipity-based. Today’s review marks another ‘victory’; a great moment: as it concerns music within the solo arena. I have bandied my opinions before- on this subject a few times- but have always been a little half-hearted; somewhat downbeat and cynical- thinking the solo market was underwhelming and disappointing. Whilst not completely reformed, for now at least, here is a genuinely great act- someone doing the sole market wonders; showing how it’s done. Before I introduce her- and get down to the business of reviewing her music- a new issue/thought has cropped-in: the musician as an ambassador; getting involved (in more than just) music- and using their name to benefit others. There are some musicians genuinely involved in community; passionate about altruistic endeavours- using their influence and time to help those less fortunate. Since I reviewed London-bases RKZ- who is an ambassador for a mental health charity- I have been looking about for those that go beyond their art; spend some time with other concerns- doing something charitable and benevolent. RKZ- in this particular case- was/is a businessman; he helps (support those with) mental illnesses- using his music as a platform. It happens more in the mainstream- and particularly the U.S. artists like Taylor Swift- where we see charitable bands/artists make the media; set-up businesses and organise events- not just focusing on the music. I can understand the (reluctance and rarity of this happening) as music is an all-consuming thing; it requires a lot of money, passion and energy- little is left for outside concerns. When it comes to Eliza Shaddad, my points all come together- just as well really; would seem like an odd tangent otherwise. Shaddad is part of the female-led collective Girls Girls Girls: a group who celebrates female creativity; support Orchid Project (that aims to end the trade of female genital mutilation). On the website- for Orchid Project- they are described thus:
“We are Sam Lindo and Eliza Shaddad. Musicians that wanted to create something a bit bigger than ourselves. We formed ‘Girls Girls Girls’ as a little collective of female artists who put on events to raise awareness, money and to stand in solidarity with females around the world who have been affected by Female Genital Cutting. We have been joined by visual artist Charlotte Ferreira and photographer Georgina White-Aldworth and we work with London-based charity, Orchid Project, to forge links with female artists from various disciplines and genres, who come together at these nights to empower each other as performers and support this important cause“.
Shaddad understand the importance of the modern age: it is not good enough to simply sit by; let issues and problems occur and worsen- getting involved is the only way to (help beat the) issues. It is impossible to get all the people involved in all issues- to ensure we all help fight inequality, discrimination and false practices. Without getting misty-eyed- and dropping THAT Edmund Burke quote into things- I am proud of musicians- I know quite a few doing some tremendous work. Whether it is charity fundraising; linking their name to charities- or just getting involved in their community- there is a rise in music-based altruism. Orchid Project means a lot to Shaddad: she is a woman compelled to make changes; not just sit and do nothing- more should follow suit. It is worth looking at Shaddad (herself); where she came from- and how she has been received:
“Born to Sudanese and Scottish parents, Eliza Shaddad is a descendent of a long line of artists and poets dating back to the 1800s. Raised across Europe and Africa and now based in London, her recently released four-track EP ‘Waters‘ was produced by Mercury Music Prize nominated Chris Bond — the huge talent behind Ben Howard — and released on Beatnik Creative. Following heavy support from BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio Scotland, XFM, Amazing Radio, and acclaim from The Sunday Times, The Line of Best Fit, Clash Magazine, and i-D Magazine, Shaddad played three brilliant shows at this year’s The Great Escape, and launched her EP at a sold-out full band show in London this June. As a vocalist and writer with chart-dominating electronic outfit, Clean Bandit, Eliza appears on their UK Shanty and Mozart’s House EP’s as well as recently released debut album, ‘New Eyes’. With Clean Bandit, Shaddad has supported Rudimental, SBTRKT and Mercury Prize-Winners Alt-J, not to mention having played across the UK supporting the likes of Michael Chapman, Rue Royale and Rhodes, in her own right. A composed and captivating live performer, she has also played festivals such as Glastonbury, Blissfields, Beachbreak Live, and Sunrise.”
Shaddad is among London’s most prominent (and impressive) musicians: an artist with a tremendous reputation; putting together some phenomenal music. Waters was released last year- the title track to her incredible E.P. – and was met with huge acclaim. It is not just the originality and confidence that comes home; it is that inimitable and peerless voice- a sound and sensation you can’t define; something haunting and dramatic- that is romantic and heart-aching. I have been trying to find a reason- as to why her voice resonates so hard and urgently- and it may be because of her background (her heritage and her musical upbringing); perhaps her collaborative spirit- and the fact she has played with some diverse musicians. There is a natural edge (to Shaddad’s voice) and something supremely commanding: each note and song is seductive and spine-tingling; Soul-blended and simply captivating. I shall have to untangle that (the mystery behind the voice) later, but for now, to the music.
If you are foreign to Eliza Shaddad; curious as to her origins- you would do good to investigate her idols. Covering a wide range, she cites the below (as inspirations):
Nina Simone, Martha Tilston, Ella Fitzgerald, Al Green, Alison Kraus, Ani DiFranco, Billie Holiday, Billy Bragg, Bob Dylan, Bob Marley, De La Soul; Dolly Parton, Eva Cassidy, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Jack Johnson, James Brown, Tori Amos, Jewel, Nick Drake, Kate Bush, Miles Davis, Nick Harper; Pacode Lucia, Robert Johnson, Skunk Anansie, Tracy Chapman…Festivals, Fat Gold Chain, MC’s, Birmingham, Boys, Girls, Horrible and Beautiful beautiful beautiful people and places.
When the shivers and seduction arrives, I am reminded of Nina Simone and the Soul greats. When her voice is sweeter and more serene, shades of Eva Cassidy and Tori Amis (can be heard). With Shaddad, there is a great mix of sensations and soulfulness; sweetness and vibrancy- a complete package. I would use the above as guidance; maybe tread carefully- our heroine cannot be directly compared to anyone (on the list above). She is very much her own signer; guided by intuition and individuality- as opposed to upbringing and others. The artists above all have (had their) place; made their mark- and, as such, should be appreciated and loved. A mix of black and white artists; Hip-Hop, Soul and Reggae (and everything in-between) – quite a variety to be found!
It is important to see how Shaddad has developed: looking at her earliest days, we can see a definite progression- in terms of confidence and range; her urgency and conviction. Released a few years ago; A Good Man is ethereal and bare. With flecks of Laura Marling in her voice; yearning and aching notes seduce forth- with a slight fleck of U.S. Country. Gorgeous and finger-picked, one can hear embers of the Folk greats; it is insistent and uplifting- a song that sounds fresh and alive. Our heroine (expounds the virtues) of a good man. Seeking soul-nourishment and redemption, there is that deep passion and underlying desire- wanting to have her body and heart cleansed and soothed. The lyrics resonate and hit the mark; the words are both personal and classic- a real stand out track. When it comes to the vocals; they become multiply and expanded- creating more atmosphere and chills; something quite tranquil and delirious. Not a ghostly and foreboding number, it is purely heartfelt and open- a song that you cannot help (but fall in love with). Soothing and steeped-in-passion, the song is filled with grace and melody.
Seven– taken from the same E.P., January-March- boasts tender and serene beginnings. Like A Good Man, the vocal is pure and velvety. Swimming and trickling over acoustic guitar, it is a pastoral and scenic number. The track- and the E.P. in general- sticks to the acoustic guitar-led vibes; that touching gentleness and wonderment- the ability to buckle the knees. Keeping her words personal and hopeful, Shaddad does not want to stay alone- she wants to go where she can feel wanted; a connection and a sense of togetherness. Showcasing just how imperative and captivating (her voice is), our heroine sounds completely at home here: there are no wasted moments and loss of passion; every note comes across intoxicating and essential.
The E.P. Covers was unveiled one year ago. It broke away from original parables- like the title suggests- seeing Shaddad tackle some well-loved songs. Whereas a lot of artists cover their favourite songs; artists that mean a lot to them- in this case, the tracks/songs might not be (in Shaddad’s) top 10. Choosing songs that require expansion- and can be improved-upon- each track is reinvented and giving new life. Hideaway (originally by Kieszia) is more haunted and rounded (than the original). Stripped-back and awed; it is a fantastic version. The instrumentation is less Folk-based- as was more normal on earlier release- and here moves towards Electro. realms. Teasing beats meet silky undertones; the vocals play in-and-out of one another; the song is nuanced and chilled- injecting bursts of passion when needed. It implores the listener to seek-out the original; investigate its worth- and see the changes!
Another (of the E.P.’s) stand-out moments was Driftwood– a new take on Travis’ hit. The vocal and composition remain bare and funereal- not in a bad way; there is a spectral quality to the sound. Like a call across the oceans; a calm and reflective song is unveiled- one that surpasses the original. Travis started Driftwood with some curiosity and beauty- as much as they could rustle- yet here it really steps up and impresses- what you’d hope the original would sound like. Like she does with every song, Shaddad makes this her own; you believe these are her words- she shows no nerves at all; as though this is her most tender moment. The covers are a collaboration with Turtle- Shaddad’s label-mate- and it has enforced/inspired the Electro. sounds- his producing and artistic prowess inspired Shaddad; helped reinvent the songs (and make the E.P. sound like it does).
Around this time, Shaddad collaborated with Clean Bandit- featuring on the tracks Birch and U.K. Shanty. The former has light-and-dark elements; it has modern Electro. sounds- that recalls artists like FKA twigs- and bristles with life. Underpinning the flow are sensations of ‘90s Trip-Hop (acts like Portishead) that gives the song a richness and sense of expansion. The track races and trips; it clatters and fizzes- the beat really gets inside your head. Shaddad’s vocal seamlessly fits in and works; making sure her voice is heard- and makes its presence known.
U.K. Shanty is more urgent and spiraling; electronics (here are) more warped and woozy- the whole song has great energy and pace. Against the frantic backdrop, Shaddad lets her voice conspire- sounding completely natural and authoritative. Able to adapt to the beats, she lets her notes trickle and reflect; emote and exude- a terrific and full-bodied performance. Making sure the song ppossses huge emotion and beauty, she seems like a natural mate (to Clean Bandit)- let’s hope they collaborate again.
Over the last few years, Shaddad has developed as a singer. In her earliest moments, there was the leaning towards Folk and Pop; her voice was at its most sweet and beautiful. Perhaps influenced by Laura Marling- her voice sounds very similar; or perhaps her most natural sound- she has grown and developed; expanding her range and sound- she comes off more original and distinct (in her most recent work). Shaddad has shown how (great an interpreter) she is; how she can revive a song- and really make it her own. Similarly, her collaborations demonstrate how she can link with others; fit into their songs and ideas- retaining her personality and uniqueness; adding colour and strength (to the numbers she performs). Waters– and her most recent songs- show Shaddad at her peak; her voice has never sounded as insistent and stunning- her songs are at their finest; the coming-together of all her strengths. Employing Folk beauty- that she showed in her earliest recordings- together with renewed confidence and strengths- gained since then- it all slots together perfectly. It begs the question about her next release: when her future E.P./album arrives, what will be contained (within)? It is clear to be fascinating and multi-layered; contain (new songs) on love and meaning; seeking something life-affirming- all wrapped up in those sensational and wonderful vocals.
Evocative and tangible (from the opening moments) the cascading beats come into view: that sensation of wave-roll and tide; something soul-seeking and dangerous- beckons in the track. Part-tribal call-to-arms; part-heartbeat-against-the-rocks; Waters spends no time (wasting moments and being underwhelming). Instant and dramatic, you are hooked-in and invested- curious as to what comes next. Electric guitar (an effective and sensual shimmers) glides and ripples; the sound of rain (or perhaps a waterfall) it is caressing and powerful. The introduction stretches and pervades; it keeps a static sounds repeated; yet it gains potency and importance with each unveiling- building a momentum and weight as it goes along. Within the first minute- and with few vocal notes elicited- you are drawn into the song; completely under its spell- a slave to its charms and beauty. When our heroine arrives at the microphone, (her initial sentiments) are both illuminating and dream-like. With the beat askance (yet resounding with heart); the guitar cascading with determination- you speculate and imagine. Shaddad dreams in greens and blues; all the things “that I have seen”- you find yourself impressed by the lyrical dexterity and economy. The vocal favour matches chocolate and honey; there is a darkness and rich centre- something sweet runs through it. Perhaps a somewhat pretentious assessment, Shaddad’s voice demands close investigation- it is something impossible to distill; imbued with so many shades and nuances. In the early stages- as she assesses her dreams and the world- there is huskiness and breathlessness; an air of submission and relent. The water-based metaphor is a powerful and giving mistress: Shaddad uses it wonderfully- twisting and teasing multiple avenues and meanings. When she is drowning and struggling- swimming against the tide without much hope- she is saved and pulled-in. Whether a lover or friend, it seems (this man/person) is always there; a life-raft and savior. The idea of water-as-an-emotional-image has been used multiple times; yet few create such a sense of drama and suffocation- our heroine’s stunning voice (tied with her intelligent lyrics and compositional flair) results in something original and staggering. As the water begins “to slide up (my) skin”, Shaddad feels not-long-for-the-world and bereft; in need of something satisfying- the intensity of desire is upon her. Helpless to resists- the lure of her man; object of her affection- that intensity and longing emanates hugely. From the banks of the river- where your mind might be at the very start- now they turn to the bedroom; perhaps a dimly-lit night- as that sexual anticipation grows. The lyrics and story mutates with an intense sense of unpredictability; our heroine’s mind seems overcome and possessed- the song starts to whip into life. Hurried out the door; wanting something more- she seems to be walking away. Wanting more (from her beau) – whether speaking spiritually or sexually- there is that need to reclaim soul; find a new direction- her man does not “bother (me)”. Standing by the shore; back at the side of the water- you start to sum-up and predict. Perhaps a relationship has broken down; maybe Shaddad is seeking more- not being nourished and satisfied as she wants. The song sparks into life due to a number of reasons. Firstly, the vocal is deployed and delineated superbly; some words race and rush; others elongated and syncopated- stunningly intertwining with the composition. That composition- and its representation of water and danger- has a physicality and huge emotional pull. The two combined elicit such a wonderful effect- coupled with tremendous production values (giving the song an eerie, live-sounding bareness) results in a wonderful effect. Moving out “from the shore”, she cannot hear (her man) – the below is beckoning and calling. After this revelation- and the song’s most potent and haunting moment- wordless vocals are laid-out; creating a shivering and spectral sound, you find yourself gripped. Shaddad has a way with evocation and presentation: her vocal-and-lyric combination ensures the scenes and words vividly come to life; you transport yourself into the song- standing alongside; wondering what will unfold. It seems there is dissatisfaction and disconnection; Shaddad is walking away; going towards the water- her anxieties and doubts taking their toll. It seems that “every time we end up here”- whether in bed or in a relationship- our heroine’s fears come through: whether it is fading from view; making mistakes- repeating patterns and squandering a very real connection. There is that niggling sense of imbalance and quench: our heroine needs more (from her man); there is always a something lacking- if it were better; the two connected and stayed together, that would be perfect. The final seconds are filed with the song’s most heightened moment; the desperation and fear shouts- our heroine is being sucked under; at her most afraid. Imploring to her man- not to be let go- that torment and vulnerability is evident and heartbreaking. The final moments arrive; you wonder whether our heroine will be alright- if she’s managed to find solace and love.
Waters is its mother’s most prosperous offspring: instilled with beauty and strength; a nobleness and dark undertone, it is a wonderful thing. In a market where the likes of Florence + the Machine are attempting similar dramas- about drowning and love’s grip- Shaddad is up to the challenge; an equal to Florence Welch (and her stunning talent). What marks Shaddad out- and takes you away from any Florence’ comparisons- is her vocal restraint. Always affecting and emotive, she never sky-scrapes and ululates- always focused and keeping the emotions in-check. The scenes and paradigms (throughout the song) build vivid scenes and thoughts; transport you inside the song- each line and verse is hugely effective; as though you are alongside her. A hard-impossible trick to pull off, our heroine is a hugely skilled story-teller- avoiding clichés and predictability, her words get inside your head (and cast their spell). It is worth noting the production, which allows every note and vocal to shine and effect- without being too polished and plastic. The track is clear and concise; each instrument and layer is perfectly blended and placed- creating something rich and nuanced. With that, the song comes off as live-sounding and bare; natural and open- given the song’s themes, that is a genius and appropriate result. Shaddad links metaphor with reality; passion with caution- never stepping over herself; never coming off clunky and insincere. Always effective and emotionally-charged, the track is a gem. A lot of songs- most in fact- lose their potential over multiple listens; start to wear thin. Waters unveils something fresh with each new discovery: keep playing and its full spectrum unfolds; its emotional potential really hits home. Backed by wonderful accompaniment- the guitar is spellbound and rip-tide; the percussion is a wave that never desists; a powerful advocator- and you have a wonderful composition. Shaddad is an accomplished and talented guitarist; someone in-tune with instruments as her own voice- when combined, she can elicit something quite spine-tingling. That has proven to be the case here: Waters is a track you will not shake off; it shows Shaddad in full flight- a supreme and sensational talent. I have mentioned singers like Laura Marling and Florence Welch- a tad of each can be detected- but truth-told; Shaddad is hugely distinct and effective- surpassing both artists. Released a year ago- and having been digested and adored by a large number- the song has lost (none of its) appeal; it is a song that never will.
The rest of Waters contains plenty of amazement, depth and treasure- the four-track release is awash with tremendous music. When We is a tender and introspective song. Our heroine is listening and wants truth; a conversation between lovers, there is that desire for resolve and togetherness. With her voice at its most tender and heart-aching, the track rides on a wave of strings: it is both riparian and water-side; insistent and attention-standing. The vocal is that rarest of thing: it is both jaw-dropping and still; yet it never sounds uninteresting and vague. The song grips and compels from start-to-finish; the purity and etherealness is transcendent- the images flow and weave their tapestry. You picture her and the man; the passion that exist; the comfort and the longing- and your mind starts to speculate. Maybe the song references a friendship; a long-formed bond that is timeless and unbreakable- maybe undergoing the weathers and strains of life. The lyrics to the track have a simplicity and complexity: the words cannot be misheard or overlooked; yet their meanings can be interpreted (in different ways by different people). I was imagining a summer-time bond; Shaddad (the heroine) lying in the grass; letting the world pass by- dreaming of her sweetheart. Throughout the track, you are washed-up by the guitar sound- it is melodic and shimmering; emotive and heartfelt. A terrific and fully-rounded track, it showcases Shaddad’s full talents: her ability to be powerful and venerable (in one moment); switch to stern and urgent (the next).
Alright Again pairs beats and strings: a punched and pulsating (but not overwhelming) back-beat pairs with sparse electronic guitar. Shaddad lets her voice cast out: against the uplifting (yet appropriately bare) backing, the vocal is entrancing and still. The song looks at friendship and bonds; being there for someone- when they need it most. Whoever the song’s core is- perhaps a friend of Shaddad’s- our heroine offers comforting words. When fear and anxiety strike- they seem to be stalking the song’s subject- help is at hand; a reliable person- someone who will be there (no matter what). Promising hopefulness and happiness, there is an uplifting and positive message: something modern singers could learn from; take heart from the messages. Never cloying or saccharine, the track remains sincere and unforced- a track from the heart and soul; you are compelled by each thought and note. That back-beat continues to pervade and push- making sure the song flows with a heartbeat; never loses its urgency. Soothing and aching strings conjoin- and tie-in with the acoustic guitar- to create something very special. Shaddad understands the issues at hand- the ease at which grace and patience can be lost- yet there is hope and a chance (to throw that all off). Maybe an ex-love is being assessed: the song mentions another woman- someone who makes them feel better and fulfilled- so perhaps a new relation is afoot. Containing some mystique to its bones, Alright Again has a slightly sorrowful and tear-stained undertone- a sadness that never bogs-down or becomes too overwhelmed. Throughout proceedings, Shaddad shows herself to be a light and a strong soul: against the words and their meanings- perhaps she is the loneliest and deserves happiness most- she offers her hands and words; you empathise and root for her (hoping she will be alright).
You for Me closes the E.P.; it is a fitting swansong- a song that builds and grows. Beginning with quiet and building atmosphere- the song fades-up and gets more urgent- it is a stunning start. Guitar notes flourish and ache; the song starts to expand and intrigue. Rumbling and tender beats fuse; the electronic strings yearn and pervade- a perfect combination. Our heroine lets her voice glide over the song; casts her eyes around the situation- bringing scenes and emotions to life. When dreams become frightening; when the morning seems too harsh- she needs that special person. Whether directed at a new love; an old friend or relation- there is that desire and hunger. To my mind, it is a lover; someone that seems quite important (to her). Completely in-awe and lost, she describes her man; the person she seeks most- that need to be comforted and touched; the completion that would come. Sounding desirous and tremulous, those shivers are delivered: the vocal is at its purest and most urgent; the beauty is endless and mesmeric. It acts as a perfect closing track; a brilliant way to end proceedings- taking Waters down (to a gentle) close.
Throughout the E.P. there is a consistent and passion: every track sounds deeply personal and compelling; there are no minor notes and unforgettable moments. From the first notes (to the last semblances) Waters cascades with life and tranquility; power and passion- everything you could want. Shaddad’s voice is at its most magisterial and divine: always sounding angelic and pure, you are powerless to resist. The production values are superb, throughout. Each note and track is crystal-clear; it allows all the emotions and elements to come through; each thought is decipherable and unfettered- meaning you get a full immersive experience. Shaddad herself makes it what it is. That voice is just the start of things- there is so much more to her. The guitar-playing and instrumentation- where she does work with other musicians- is compelling and multitudinous. Most of the songs contain drum and guitar: the way they are deployed and used focuses on mood and projection; ensuring there are no wasted notes or unpromising compositions. Looking at subjects like love and yearning; life and death- our heroine shows no fear of death; not bothered by it- the lyrics and songs are vivid and memorable. Sounding fully-formed and completely in-control- not nervous or under-developed like some of her peers- the E.P. shows a huge amount of work and instinct; the result of years of graft and honing. Whereas previous release see Shaddad promising and engaging, here she offers so much more- letting her voice glide within notes; there is a move towards projection and delivery. The tracks sound more textured and nuanced- compared to previous offerings- and Shaddad is brimming with confidence and pride. As a lyricist she taps into inner recesses and nooks; digging into her soul and psyche- filling the songs with so much openness and honesty. Tackling well-worn subjects- requited love and partnership- she tackles the themes with a unique bent; a real fresh perspective. Vital and alive; knee-buckling and trembling, the barely-whispered voice is a stunning revelation. It takes a few listens (for the E.P. to reveal all its beauties, insights and promises), but when it does, the effect is quite profound. Waters sees Shaddad at her peak: more in love with music than ever; at the top of her game. It points towards a very promising and stunning future- her next release will be met with a huge amount of entrance, fascination and love.
Although Waters was released last year, its legacy has not dissipated- the E.P. is still gathering praise, adulation and respect. It is easy- in this fast-moving climate- to overlook music; let it pass by- the best sounds should not be overlooked. Shaddad’s name is on the rise; she is plotting new moves- brand-spanking music is due in the autumn. Waters– and its title track especially- is the sound of a young woman finding her voice- that voice is enough to buckle the senses. It is not just the voice that entrances so- and to be fair, it is the standout element- but the complete package. Her endless soul and passion defines every moment. Reviewers and listeners always use the same word (when describing her sound) which boils down to: haunting. It is a good word to use- shivers are elicited for sure- yet only tells a fraction of the story. There is plenty of beauty and enticement; atmosphere and rich soulfulness- embers of Aretha Franklin come through at times. Tied to this are the lyrics: an insight into the young artist’s mind; the concerns and troubles she faces- and how she battles them. All artists have personal woes and demons; a need to exorcise them- music provides that portal. Shaddad uses music a different way: there is that conscious effort to draw listeners in; not to something tormented and troubled- something beautiful and pure. I mentioned Aretha Franklin; Shaddad has a wide range of icons- from Kate Bush to Miles Davis; through to Al Green. You can tell how much music means (to her); flecks of others come through (shades of her icons) into something both rich and vibrant- music that begs for your attention. In a sea of below-par and forgettable musicians, it is nice discovering some long-lasting: a talent that has a clear desire; in no mood to call quits- expect to hear a lot more from her. In the next few weeks/months, there will be new music- the latest installment from Shaddad; an opportunity to see how she has progressed. If Waters is anything to go by, there will be intrigue and fascination: it is going to be well-worth the wait. I started the review by mentioning solo artists and their quality; musicians and charitable endeavours. The solo market is growing in the underground; starting to flourish and broaden- catching-up with bands/duos (and the regency they have). I have been ambivalent towards the solo artists; skeptical about their potential- always more inclined towards other music. Over the last few months, something has happened; a revival has occurred-and excited me greatly. In the past, I was hearing a lot of same-same Acoustic-led acts: guitar in hand, it was hardly innovative or game-changing; rather minor and vague. From Electronic and Pop soloists; some Alternative/Rock cross-over (acts); along to Soul artists- showing just what they are made of. There are still some cracks and fault to be found: acoustic-led artists tend not to spike my imagination; a lot of the Hip-Hop/Rap artists (are still seen as) niche- being overlooked and relegated to narrow corners. Aside from a few acts, there are not that many Rock/Alternative solo acts- it would be good to see more (of them). The most pleasing aspect of it all- when it comes to solo music and their representatives- is the quality and passion. Being such a hard area of music- being on your own is always more challenging; harder to elicit a band-level response- it is quite understandable; it takes time to fully come together and improve. Among the swell or upcoming talent; the glistening solo artists- Shaddad ranks among the most memorable. Based out of London, she is reveling (in the capital’s) myriad sounds and artists; drawing from the communities and experiences- channeling them into some confounding music. My other point to end on- and one I began on too- regards charitable and conscientious musicians. Shaddad is affiliated/part of Orchid Project; determined to end (the heartbreaking cases) of female genital mutilation- ensure the practice stops. It is impressive to see her get involved (with a cause and project that does great work) and let’s hope this continues- her voice and influence is making an impact; inspiring others to follow suit. Music (and musicians) is not the arbiters of social responsibility; they have a great platform on which to make changes- a literal voice that can lead to betterment and improvement. Being a reviewer/music journalist, I see a lot of ‘low-level’ music-related charity occurrences- runs and events being organised; gigs being put-together- in addition to bigger and more ambitious happenings. Music is among the most influential art forms in the world; its fan-base growing without impedance. It seems a lot more can be achieved. There are so many causes out there; so many ills going ignored- an opportunity to step-up and make those changes. Maybe I am missing the point; going off on a tangent- it just got me thinking, that’s all. What my point is- and there is one in there- relates to the good musicians do (like Shaddad) and how effective they can be. I shall end with a brief note; a slight conclusion- regards the voice itself. As my featured artist’s voice has stunned many- and continues to confound and stagger listeners- it got me thinking somewhat. A lot of solo artists tend to stick too closely (to another voice); come off slightly familiar and tired- it is a blight that affects bands too. It is those original and unheard-of voices that take the hearts of the masses; ensure a bright future- if the songs are terrific too; more-so the better. Shaddad has a consistent and multi-layered set of songs; her pen is both affected and sharp- music that desires multiple listens and a dedicated heart. It is that voice that perhaps lingers longest- and not to belabor the point to death- but it is something not-oft heard. Waters (the E.P.) contains so many sides to that voice; such emotion and soul- few of her contemporaries can match that. Everything comes together in her music: that altruism and endeavor; the passion and the emotion; the vulnerable side too. A woman and artist with confidence and pride- she also has a shyer and tender side- she is fascinating to me. Whatever you look for in a musician- whether it is the complete package; maybe just something very unique- Shaddad hits the mark; she will satisfy. Ensure you check her music out; let Waters (the track) be your starting-point; work back and see how far she has come- and where she is headed. It is those ‘future movements’ that will be the most intriguing; speculated-about and wonderful- just what is coming next? Who knows, I guess, but one thing is for sure- and given everything we know and has been written about her- would you really…
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