Kiesza’s ‘Sound Of A Woman’: Album Review
After the whirlwind that was last year’s Q4 pop album releases (including Katy Perry‘s Prism, Lady Gaga‘s ARTPOP, Britney Spears‘ Britney Jean and Beyonce‘s Beyonce), the music industry seemed to fade into a boring lull once 2014 hit. But fast forward to the current season, and it appears that pop has had a musical resurgence – thanks to artists like Canadian pop-house maven Kiesza. The flame-haired singer first made waves this past, chilly winter with her smash single, “Hideaway” and now her debut LP Sound Of A Woman arrives today ().
Kicking off the record is the song that started it all: “Hideaway.” We first got wind of the track back in February when the official video dropped, and added it to our Spring “Hottest Imports” playliss. The song is an ode to the deep house jams of the ’90s, and doesn’t skimp out on the synthesized drum beats or powerful vocals. To put it simply, it makes you feel damn good. When placed into the realm of current pop, “Hideaway” manages to stand out on its own without the help of a 4-on-the-floor blueprint or a crashing bass drop with standard synths.
Next up on the album is “No Enemiez,” the bigger and bolder sister to “Hideaway.” This song is strictly made for underground clubs – due to its throbbing beats that seems to draw from more European influences. The biggest highlight of the track is Kiesza’s vocals (as it should be – take note wannabe pop stars). Her glossy voice transcends over the heavy production, providing a juxtaposition that makes for totally fun listen.
Tracks like “Losin’ My Mind” and “So Deep” prove that Kiesza cannot be pigeon-holed into a strict dance category; her distinctly airy voice can also shift to be edgier and far more soulful. The former is a commanding mid-tempo number with a late ’80s underground hip-hop flavor (which is amped up thanks to Mick Jenkins‘ feature), while the latter takes you to space with its dreamy rhythms and breathy vocals that tease the eardrums as she whispers, “Baby I can’t never find the need / I’m still loving you right now, right now, right now.“
In certain instances on Sound Of A Woman, the deep house trend becomes a bit trite, as with songs like “Vietnam” and “Over Myself” for example. But one cut manages to push through the album’s sometimes-overwhelming walls of ’90s dance mania, and that’s “Bad Thing.” Already released as a buzz track, it’s a welcome surprise that cuts right in the middle of the album. Whether it was a strategic move or not, this gritty track gives the listener a breather coaxes out a more mellow version of the Canadian singer. Assisted by young Brooklynite Joey Bada$$, “Bad Thing” has a swagger that many pop stars have tried to pull off with other rap features, yet this one seems more genuine.
Another surprise on the album is the singer’s version of Haddaway‘s 1993 dance smash, “What Is Love” — and it is a stunner. Kiesza manages to transform the classic party tune into a heartfelt ballad, which gives the song an entirely different meaning. Her decision to slow down the tempo allows the listener to connect to the moving lyrics; it’s a pretty genius move. After the “lighters in the air” moment that is “What Is Love,” Kiesza wipes her tears away and becomes defiant in the album’s title track. The tone is unapologetical vengeful, with her singing, “One more time, I’ll ask why/You let me waste all those nights/Had I known, I’d have not let you step into my life.”
While “Hideaway” is indeed a ’90s throwback, “The Love” gives it a run for the money. The difference between the two is this: the latter is more of a tribute to the decade as a while, and “The Love” sounds like it was lifted directly from German-American Eurodance group La Bouche‘s recording studio — and we mean that, of course, in the best way possible. Another close contender to “The Love” is the LP’s second UK single, “Giant In My Heart.” Like the greats that came before her (Haddaway, Robin S. and Crystal Waters), Kiesza takes the theme of pain, heartbreak and loneliness and places it along a lush bed of ’90s house beats. The classic combination makes for a song that you would not be afraid to belt out every word to while grooving on the dance floor.
Once EDM was introduced to us en masse, it seemed like that ear-draining techno beat would never escape. Thanks to modern producers like Avicii, Calvin Harris, Swedish House Mafia, Afrojack and will.i.am (ugh), the techno craze seeped through all genres of music. To be honest, it was getting extremely redundant and boring almost at the onset, so much so, that a new wave of artists (Disclosure, Duke Dumont, Gorgon City, Clean Bandit, etc.) have looked to the beloved era of ’90s house to get dance music re-energized. There’s no question that among the bunch, Kiesza has been a dominating force that should help influence others to shed the robotic nature of EDM and return to emotion- and vocal-filled house music.
Best Song That Wasn’t The Single: “Losin’ My Mind,” arguably the sultriest tune off the album. It shows Kiesza in a different light, as she digs into the subtle erotic grooves made famous by acts like Madonna and Janet Jackson during their heydays.
Best Listened To When: You’re getting ready for a night on the town with your best guy or girl friends, having zero cares in the world and want the perfect soundtrack that feeds your ’90s nostalgia.
Idolator Score: 4/5
— Bianca Gracie