Sudanese/Scottish artist Eliza Shaddad has just released her album ‘The Woman I Want’ – an epic collection of deeply personal anthems infused with a melancholia and bittersweet taste. The songs are carried by her velvet golden vocals and shimmering instrumentation. Above all, Shaddad displays a well-honed song writing craft filled with celestial melodies and heart-on-her-sleeve emotions.
Of the album as a whole, Shadda says:
‘The Woman You Want is a record of me figuring myself out. I’d been wrestling with the idea of
wanting to be a better human, a better woman, a better wife, better friend, better daughter… and not really feeling
capable of it… and the so the title, and title song, came out as a direct challenge really, to me, and to the listener.
Opening track ‘The Man I Admire’ sets the scene – a reflective and quiet introduction with jangling guitars and soft vocals before segueing into single ‘Heaven’: a faster paced jangling track that is anthemic and vast with its themes of resilience and stoicism in the face of the vicissitudes of life:
Yeah I want you to keep holding on
Yeah I want you to keep holding on
I know life can be unkind
And you’ve got leaving on your mind
But I want you to keep holding on.
The video accompanying the single is lush and pastoral:
‘Fine & Peachy’ has a rollicking, bluesy swing with brutally honest lyrics as Shadad confronts her protagonist with blunt language. The beat is cool, her approach refreshingly louche and languid as the music moves with a snaky groove. A bag full of attitude with a swing and a scything guitar riff.
So just send it straight, straight down the middle at me
Coz I can think of a billion other places I would rather be
Than stranded in the cold wind that’s been blowing from you lately
Ah pretending everything is just fine and peachy.
(Can I get a little honesty, can I get a little honesty from you?)
The title track with its syncopated beats and chiming guitar and piercing riffs is suffused with atmosphere and space: another anthemic delight filled with Shaddad’s cool delivery and celestial vocals.
‘Waiting Game’ has elements of Kate Bush’s ethereal vocal style – heartachingly beautiful and melancholic with an extraordinary range and velvet touch, whereas ‘Tired of Trying with its muffled beat box beat and dappling synths is something more brooding and prowling, Shaddad’s voice a deeper, darker tone.
‘In The Morning (Grandmother Song)’ is naked and raw: an elegy to Shaddad’s missed grandmother with Shaddad’s gorgeous vocals up front and infused with feeling and yearning, soaring over the complex melodies.
The album closes with ‘Now You’re Alone’ – a travelling, statuesque track with an insistent movement and building up like a burning fuse approaching kindling wood. Shaddad’s voice is again extraordinary – building up from a whisper to a roar.
‘The Woman You Want’ is a deeply confessional, personal and evocative album burnished with a force of positivity and sparkling instrumentation, and gilded by Eliza Shaddad’s extraordinary vocals and emotive power.
‘The Woman You Want’ is out now through Rosemundy Records and available through the link below.
Shaddad will be touring the UK later this year (details and tickets here):
8th November – Green Door Store – Brighton
9th November – Crofters Rights – Bristol
10th November – The Blue Moon – Cambridge
11th November – The Dome – London
13th November – Voodoo Daddy’s – Norwich
18th November – Clwb Ifor Back – Cardiff
19th November – YES (Basement) – Manchester
20th November – The Hug and Pint – Glasgow
22nd November – Oporto – Leeds
23rd November – The Victoria – Birmingham
24th November – Yellow Arch Studios – Sheffield
26th November – Old Bakery Studios – Truro
Feature Photograph: Jodie Canwell