A grown-up and brave album of jazz pop.
Chris Jones 2008
Sia Furler, Australian queen of post-trip hop jazzy soul must be kicking herself. Having forged a mighty reputation with both her work with coffee table after-clubbers, Zero 7 and her five solo albums, she wakes up one day to find the market flooded with other women keen to pocket the slurry-voiced end of the market. This album should easily see off such pretenders.
The fact remains that Sia was there first, and her maturity and experience makes her voice a much more convincing tool. Some People Have Real Problems is both packed with beautifully lazy, melancholic tunes and delivered with a production job that highlights the best aspects of her voice. This is helped by the presence of some of Beck's band, as well as the boy himself on backing vocals.
The truest test is that she can take a familiar cover version and OWN it: It's an unusual step to first release a live version of a song (on last year's Lady Croissant) and then follow it with a studio rendition, but her take on Ray Davies' "I Go To Sleep" owes nothing to Chrissie Hynde. Listen to the control that finally allows the disarmingly restrained pipes to take flight on the second chorus.
The awfully-titled but still amazing "Death By Chocolate" makes the (oft) fatal mistake of crossing over into Gospel territory and still never falters. Only on rockier tracks like "Buttons" does she become mildly unstuck. Admittedly the weary Billie Holiday croak can get a little too familiar, especially as it's this very trope that the likes of Adele and Duffy are trying to tempt you with over the next few months. But by the blaring horns of "Electric Bird" the wealth of tunes and genuine FEEL have bulldozered any misgivings into dust. It may not be original but it's quality.
Hopefully enough people can fight past the childlike visuals (recently coined as 'tweetronising' by the Guardian's Charlie Brooker) that seem to be so essential for marketing anything to a thirty-something audience these days. For at the heart of Some People Have Real Problems is a grown-up and brave album of jazz pop. It deserves your attention.