Sia Healing Is Difficult Review

BBC Review

With this full showcase, Sia has pulled a handbrake turn and skidded neatly in to the...

Andy Puleston 2002

Even though Zero 7 have enlisted the abilities of the Australian born vocalist and writer, there is a bigger and better reason to be excited about Sia Furler, namely her debut album Healing Is Difficult. This combination of R&B, two step and jazz flavours provides a backdrop for one of the most exciting voices to have emerged in recent years.

Prior to the album's release "Taken For Granted" crashed the charts last year at number 10 and "Little Man" had the overhaul from UK garage star Wookie and sold 10,000 white labels to the dance music underground. With the full showcase now available, Sia has pulled a handbrake turn and skidded neatly in to the space marked 'this year's diva'.

The title of this album is not without good reason as Sia's past has been a trying one with the tragic loss of a partner and subsequent grieving providing the basis and catalyst for much of the writing. From the outset we are exposed to a brutal honesty as the opening track, "Fear" confesses, 'And sometimes I worry my boyfriend will die, my first love is already dead. You see fear is only holding us back'.

Complementary to this, the hip hop beats of "Taken For Granted" have been layered over Prokofiev's 'Romeo and Juliet' - whether this choice reflects a darker irony and further mediatation on the subject only adds to the track's mystique and appeal. However bold, her sensitivity never descends to self-depreciation or pity, in fact, it is tempered with a well developed sense of humour - a natural extension of her playful nature. By way of an illustration, she arrived on stage to perform "Destiny" at the recent Zero 7 show to a rapturous applause, took the mic and in the thickest of Australian twangs exclaimed, 'I probably shouldn't talk, should I? It'll spoil the illusion!'

Mindset aside, it is the delivery that singles Sia out. Her range and versatility across the album mark her as being both natural and at ease in a jazz mode, "Drink To Get Drunk", as well as down tempo in the seductive R&B ballad "Blow It All Away". That said, the soaring vocal power on the exceptional "Judge Me" proves she can belt it out with the best of them.

Sexy, soulful and masterful, she is without question a kick ass singer! It's not really a question of drawing parallels with other vocalists rather that in years to come it is others that will be compared to her. The road has been long with too many winding turns to mention but Sia is finally here. Intelligent, moving and funny which begs the question, 'What does the girl do for an encore?'. Do not deprive yourself of this little gem.

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