“ Artist: Sia / Release Date: 2001 / Genre: Pop & Rock „
Sia is an Australian artist who doesn't seem to get the credit she deserves in this country, anyone who has heard her pretty exceptional cover of Radiohead's epic 'Paranoid Android' will accept the woman has got a fantastic set of pipes and she uses her voice like an instrument.
This album didn' t really take off anywhere which is a shame as its a pretty decent album which is way smarter than most performers can achieve.
Released in 2001, the album has some wicked beats, some wonderfully downbeat lyrics and stories which are well played out.
Sia is pretty awesome a beautiful and charming performer who has also written for other acts, providing '''I told you I was freaky' to Jermaine and Brett for the second series of Flight of the Conchords, as well as writing with Christina Aguillera and collaborating with the awesome Beck.
Sia is also known as a guest vocallist on the lazy, chilled out beats of Zero 7 albums.
Fear: A story about how people allow their own fear to hold them back from really living, the lyrics are downbeat and depressing but the tune is upbeat and bounces along, Sia sounds smoky, jazzy and very current, her voice is awesome, her use of it is different and she doesn't try to X-factor it up with bollocksy high notes unless they are necessary. This is a smart track which is pretty fearless and very honest.
Drink to get Drunk: This is my favourite song on the album and is one I could really relate to when I was a tad younger, it is again very honest, you eat to satiate hunger, use keys to open doors and she admits she uses booze to unlock her. This is a thoughtful song, with a jazzy backing sound, the woozy chorus is awesome and the lyrics are anhilistic and appropriate for the subject, this is a slow burner which really hits the spot, ok we can enjoy alcohol but realistically it is often used to relax and release a less stressed 'Fun Bobby' version of ourselves. Wicked tune, fantastic vocals, awesome music, just a pretty fantastic tune all round!!
Taken for Granted: This contains a sample from Prokofiev's 'Dance of the Knights' over a dance beat, this is a cool song, it is musically excellent and the chorus burns into the back of your head, the song builds up and we really hear the full range of Sia's fantastic voice, effortless but charming. This got to number 10 in the UK charts in 2000 but I think this was around the time William Orbit released a classical dance album, so it may just have been in vogue, as subsequent songs bombed here.
Blow it all away: I love this it starts with such a sorrow filled beat, and a depressed, quietly spoken vocal performance from Sia, this had its name changed in America before release due to sensitivity over the Twin tower bombings at the time.
I like this song, it is complex and the song really builds up nicely, the backing sound includes organs, sax, guitars and they all move about with a nice sample underscoring the whole piece. Lyrically this is a very honest song and the whole album seems to be talking about somebody who has cut this woman up quite badly.
Get Me: Nice use of samples again, this has a heavy bass thumping through it and nice touches over the vocal, this is a kind of trip hop, jazzy, funky piece reminiscent of a Roots Manuva beat, the chorus is very funky and the main singing is fine, not one of the best songs on the album, but catchy in its own way.
I'm not important to you: This song is 6 minutes long, starts with a nice booty-call-esque beat, this song explodes into life with a wonderful sprawling melody, Sia sounds awesome and the song is actually brilliant for about 5 minutes, nice chorus, excellent vocals. I like the lyrics on this song, its a F**k you to someone who has played this woman. Its a strong song and this sense of fighting back from pain is recurrent through the whole album. A wicked song, which is motivating and wants you to go find people who've messed you around and give them a good telling off!
Sober and Unkissed: Lovely, nice use of acoustic guitar, but this is totally overpowered by Sia's amazing voice, this is stunning and then the beats kick in and the funk level is pumped up to eleven, a nice ragga beat, wicked tune all round really.
Healing is Difficult: Love the complexity of the musical style, organs, lots of samples, a voice that is soooooo funky, this is a tune all in. Love the way Sia sings a hugely intelligent and downbeat song with such upbeat lyrics. Why are my skills in bed more important than sanity is a question many of us may have asked, its a smart lyric and a fantastic song.
Judge Me: Lovely start again, Sia sounds like a soul diva at the start, but then some wicked samples kick in and we get the full range of her vocal talent, this does sound a little dated with the drum machine, but this is a flowing track, which is lyrically excellent.
Little Man: Love this tune, absolutely love it, with a riff from some smoky jazz jam, underlying samples and a breathy lyric from Sia, she sounds so hot on this song, but to be fair this is more a song about teaching a young man, its so cool, so funky, so thoughtful. Love this song, love the idea behind it, its an inspirational tune.
Insidiously: Nearly 8 minutes long this is a cool song, with a wicked chorus, it is a bit too long, but this is music for lounging about and chilling to not dancing to, so enjoy it, it sprawls effortlessly kicking out at haters and bad people. A cool song, not the best on the album, but superior to most tunes.
Little man Remix: This is a remix of the previously mentioned Little Man, this offers a calypso sample and speeds the whole vocal up somewhat with drum and bass behind it, a cool and original remix.
Drink to Get Drunk Remix: A nice remix speeding up this tune but not speeding up the vocal works as Sia spits out lyrics over funky beats.
I absolutely love this album, I bought it years ago in HMV for £9.99 but it stands the test of time brilliantly, Sia is original and has not been sanitised by her record company or forced to conform like so many female artists, she mixes acid jazz, funk, soul, jazz and drum and bass, her voice is incredible, original and honest, while her lyrics are excellent.
This is an album i'd heartily recommend, its downbeat at times, but has some positive if honest messages to transmit over excellent beats. This is a fearless album and it doesn't conform which I love, it also doesn't try and make everything nice and perfect, it shows relationships, personal weaknesses and attitudes for what they are, good or bad.
There is a version of this album on Amazon for £18.49 but you should be able to download it on I-Tunes for much less. This is important and relevant and difficult to pigeonhole.
I really rate this album and think she is one of a number of exceptionally talented female artists around right now, she is starting to get the recognition her skills deserve but they have been an awful long time coming.
Australian music is on the crest of a wave at the moment, with Kylie and Darren Hayes selling records by the bucketloads. However, one of the best albums to come out of Oz last year went pretty much unnoticed. 'Healing Is Difficult' was the debut release of soul singer Sia Furler, which sold about 5 copies in this country when it was released last year, despite a memorable poster campaign. One copy was up in our local kebab house for weeks, which wasn't the smartest move by the proprietors considering that the poster showed the words 'Healing Is Difficult' on Sia's cheek, as if it had been etched in by a safety pin. Hardly what you want to look at when your munching on a donner. You may actually recognise Sia's vocals from the album that launched a thousand TV adverts, Zero 7's 'Simple Things'. She sang 'Destiny' amongst other tracks, and performed with them live on their acclaimed tour, although she isn't a permanent member of the band. Sia's delivery is very unusual, as upon first appearances, she looks as though she's another blond frontwoman of a faceless dance act, about to launch into Europop fodder. Instead, we get a very original and nasal delivery, and dark lyrics about things you wouldn't exactly find in 'Castles In The Sky'. The Aussie twang to her songs adds to the originality and 'Healing Is Difficult' can definitely be described as an accomplished album. The tracks are as follows: 'Fear' Fear demonstrates the social commentary theme of the album. Dropping in lyrics about the traumas that her friends go through, it's chirpy backing belies some quite upsetting themes, such as physical abuse within a relationship, anorexia and death. We also learn here that her own fear is sharks, and she also announces that her first love is 'already dead'. Not perhaps what you'd think would be uplifting, but the
lazy hip-hop beats contrast the song's content superbly. 'Drink To Get Drunk' One of the album's highlights, this track is made by the sequence of two piano notes just before the start of every line. An emotional delivery adds to the escapist theme of the song, and tries to justify drinking to excess just to get away from it all. With the nagging refrain 'I don't know why I smoke, but I drink to get drunk', it is stripped down brilliantness. I think that there were a few dance versions of the track going around last year, and one of these is featured as a bonus track on my version of the album. However, I'm not sure that it really adds anything at all to the song, and takes out all the intensity of it, so this original version should definitely be the starting point to anyone wishing to hear the track? 'Taken For Granted' This is the song that you are most likely to know, having hit the Top 10 a few years ago. Sampling the composer Prokofiev, it is a song all about, er, being taken for granted. Once again, more of a story than a song, Sia sings it with more than a hint of bitterness. Upon the first hearing of song, I though it was a bit gimmicky, but I think that it works really well in the context of the album, and does get better with every listen., especially when you concentrate on the lyrics. 'Blow It All Away' A down-tempo track that isn't quite a memorable as the first three tracks, it once again demonstrates the unique delivery of Sia, as her nasal voice twists around every syllable. Perhaps this track needed a little something else to make it stand out, but is still a fine album track. 'Get Me' One of the more produced songs off the album, this one has heavier beats and sounds a whole lot more British. Like 'Blow It All Away', it isn't quite up there with the likes of 'Drink To Get Drunk', and
seems as if it wants to be a Bristol trip-hop torch-song classic, but doesn't quite get there. 'I'm Not Important To You' Or maybe, 'Taken For Granted : Part 2', as it continues along the same theme and even makes a reference to it in the first line of the song. A bit faster than 'Taken For Granted', Sia shows that once again that she is a dangerous lady to scorn with the controlled but intense way that she keeps repeating 'I'm not important to you' over and over again. 'Sober And Unkissed' Another song on an alcohol tip, it starts off like 'The Girl From Ipanema' with its latin guitars, but ends up as another beatified song about longing. I particularly like the layering of her vocals towards the end of the song as she continues to sing earnestly 'when are you coming around'. Like some of the previous tracks, it concentrates of the repetition of one line and works very effectively. 'Healing Is Difficult' The title track of the album is also one of its highlights, with Sia singing bitterly once again about a lost love. A bit more uptempo than some of the other tracks, it has a very Australian feel to it. 'Judge Me' This one starts off much faster than the others, almost sounding like a Kosheen, before slowing right down again for the verse. All about expressing your individuality, it sounds quite experimental, and sees Sia singing for her life. A refreshing change of style on the album. 'Little Man' This is a jazzy number that sounds as though it was taken straight from Jill Scott's album 'Who Is Jill Scott?'. I think that this one was released as a single, but I don't recall it getting any airplay whatsoever. I don't think it's one of the strongest tracks off the album as it lacks that vital hook. There is also a remix of the track by Exemen Works that
is included on the album, although I don't think that this does the song justice. 'Insidiously' Another good track, its layered vocal structure of reminiscent of some of the work she did with Zero 7. Again, it concentrates on her vocal rather than any loud effects, and is a chilled way to end what is a fine album. This is a confident album, full of observations and witticisms rather than lots of 'I Love You' songs. Perhaps a bit too clever and knowing for some, I have heard the album compared to Bjork's 'Debut' because of its striking originality and eclecticness. I'd also say that her delivery is vaguely reminiscent of Billie Hollidayn, especially in the way that she pronounces her words. It's also worth noting that Sia always performs live, and I remember seeing her briefly on Jools Holland on his 'Later' show singing 'Taken For Granted', and she was very impressive. Having said that, I only came across Sia's album by chance in a second-hand record shop, snapping up a copy for £1 (thanks once again to Vinyl Exchange, Manchester for another bargain?), on the off chance that it may have had a few decent tracks on it. Instead, I got an absolute gem that gets better with every listen. If there are any soul fans who like their music a bit rough round the edges rather than slick and smooth, this one comes highly recommended?