mon 25/05/2020

CD: Sia - This Is Acting | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Sia - This Is Acting

CD: Sia - This Is Acting

The singer who likes to remain unseen keeps herself hidden behind songs meant for other people

It might be called This Is Acting, but is it really?

All the tracks for Sia’s seventh studio album were pitched to pop stars like Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Adele and Demi Levato, but didn't make the cut. To fashion an album out of rejection is so Sia – it’s tongue-in-cheek, playing a game by turning something on its head. It’s playful. It’s (among other reasons) why we love her.

All the tracks for Sia’s seventh studio album were pitched to pop stars like Rihanna, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Adele and Demi Levato, but didn't make the cut. To fashion an album out of rejection is so Sia – it’s tongue-in-cheek, playing a game by turning something on its head. It’s playful. It’s (among other reasons) why we love her.

But while Sia might claim she’s acting in these songs that weren't written from her perspective, songwriting is a personal process and clearly the 40-year-old Australian has leveraged some of herself to get these tracks to where they are.

This Is Acting is way more pop than her last, deeply personal album, 1000 Forms Of Fear. You can hear Rihanna’s R&B stance here and there, or Beyoncé’s bouncy pop in the pumping dance track "Move Your Body", and you can imagine Katy Perry doing "Broken Glass". You can also hear why Rihanna turned down the teeny pop "Cheap Thrills", or Beyoncé may have ixnayed the overtly sentimental "Footprints", and "House On Fire" is probably just a bit too odd for someone other than Sia herself (plus it feels like the one that came before "Fire And Gasoline").

But "Bird Set Free" is way more in tune with the Sia we are accustomed to. You would never know it had been turned down by the film Pitch Perfect 2 as well as Rihanna and then Adele. More fool them. It's a cracker of a song – classic Sia, full of chipped vocals and off-kilter harmonies, her full, edgy voice that's a bit gritty round the edges and lyrics that read like an autobiography, chronicling her battle against the limelight, as she chants: "I don't care if I sing off-key, I find myself in my melodies/I sing for love, I sing for me, I shout it out like a bird set free".

“Alive” is another anthemic survival song. It has a stomping beat but still brings a blunt edge to a soft sound that you can really throw your head back and belt out the lyrics to. "I'm Still Breathing" repeats, surrounded by triumphant lyrics and that rough crack that makes listening to Sia so exciting.

"Reaper", co-written by Kanye West, is another odd one, obviously written with another singer in mind, but oh-so-Sia in its beautiful defiance as she tells the character of death "No baby, no baby, not today" – it's like a face-off with a cartoon character. Then there's more tongue-in-cheek with the thong-songy "Sweet Design" before "Space Between" takes us into a sad song that we can happily wail along to when there's "no more fighting for us".

"One Million Bullets" is the only song on the album not written for another artist. It's irresistible, with a sense of vastness as well as feeling like she's embracing you in a whispery hug. There's that quirky pronunciation of words that only Sia can do as she lilts about being "Under the moonlight, under your moonlit gaze". It makes you feel invincible. And it makes you realise Sia is invincible. Not many people can make such success from something that, first time round, could be deemed a failure.

The lyrics read like an autobiography, chronicling her battle against the limelight

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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