Album: Sia

Healing is Difficult (Long Lost Brother)
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The Independent Culture

These past few years have proven a particularly fertile period for young female singer-songwriters with an eclectic sense of style and an assertive sense of self. Australian chanteuse Sia is the latest contributor to these swelling ranks, applying a voice as laid back and jazz-cool as Nelly Furtado's to songs whose consideration of fears, foibles and the fickleness of friends recalls R&B auteur Jill Jones. Sia's best known so far for last year's Top 10 hit "Taken For Granted", whose classical-breakbeat blend (featuring a sample from Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet) gives some indication of her idiosyncratic musical style here. Minimal drum programmes are stitched together with tiny guitar fragments; layered vocal harmonies ride crisply syncopated Latin-funk percussion; and mellow fusion grooves are tugged out of shape by woozy string arrangements, as Sia tries to make sense of her life in guilt-free terms. "I use booze to unlock me," she admits in "Drink To Get Drunk", though the openness which elsewhere finds her acknowledging "my best friends are pushers, my boyfriends are whores" seems to scare her partners as much as it attracts: "Why do you cock your head to the side when you look at me/ Are my skills in bed more important than my sanity?". Though leaning close to diva-style histrionics in places, the album as a whole has a beguiling tone and texture; and with both Wookie and Zero 7 involved in her career, Sia could well emulate Dido's success as pop-house crossover hitmaker.