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.