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Kiesza ‘Sound of a Woman’ – Album Review

Island (2014)

The breakout star of the deep house revival which had previously seemed rather faceless, flame-haired Canadian vocalist Kiesza already seems to be preparing for the time when the whole scene collapses in on itself, judging by her surprisingly eclectic debut album, Sound of a Woman.

Produced by Kuwait-born Rami Samir Afuni, the album’s 13 tracks still contain several dancefloor anthems in the shape of “Hideaway,” the euphoric fusion of thick gooey bass, fizzing EDM synths and wide-eyed romantic melodies which positioned the 25-year-old as the 2014 answer to the likes of Ce Ce Peniston and Robin S earlier this summer.

But in addition to warbling her way through the bouncy Eurodance of “No Enemiesz,” the epic diva house of “Giant In My Heart” and the Italo disco of “Over Myself,” Sound of a Woman also sees Kiesza determined to prove that her powerhouse tones can still captivate outside the arena of the early 90s club classic.

“So Deep” starts out as the kind of lush sensual electro-soul affair you’d expect from Quiet Storm chanteuse Jessie Ware before bursting into a two-step garage throwback; the classic kickdrums and handclaps of 808 anthem “Vietnam” find Kiesza taking a nostalgic trip a decade further back to hypnotic effect; and “Losin’ My Mind” is a brooding blend of trip-hop beats, eerie gospel samples reminiscent of Moby’s ubiquitous Play era and laid-back rhymes courtesy of Alabama rapper Mick Jenkins.

Ironically, Kiesza’s vocals impress the most in a bona-fide 90s floorfiller, as she transforms Haddaway’s “What Is Love” into a yearning serenade filled with delicate piano keys and sweeping strings, with the haunting torch song “Cut Me Loose” also proving that Kiesza can play the balladeer as convincing as the disco diva.

Anyone expecting Sound of a Woman to be full of dazzling HI-NRG may be slightly disappointed by its occasional mood swings. But it’s an impressively self-assured first effort which suggests that Kiesza should easily transcend the movement from which she emerged.

 

4 / 5 stars     

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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