ARTIST OF THE MONTH: SIA | COLOUR THE SMALL ONE (2004)
Before she went mainstream, Australian singer-songwriter Sia released her third studio album, "Colour The Small One," on February 3, 2004. It’s true, though- I bought two of Sia’s earlier albums back in 2008 when she was just a tiny blip on the music world’s radar. I thought her talent was impressive and hoped that the rest of the world would pick up on her beautiful music. The album "Colour The Small One" is an excellent introduction to Sia’s solo work as there are plenty of emotional ballads that highlight her powerful voice and plenty of fun, upbeat songs, all with Sia’s signature well-written lyrics. The production was by Jimmy Hogarth, who also co-wrote three tracks and provided various instruments. It was re-released on January 10th, 2006, in the US, after the track "Breathe Me" became popular on alternative radio, following its feature as the closing song in the series finale of the HBO drama "Six Feet Under." The album peaked at No. 14 on the BillboardTop Heatseekers Albums Chart.
Sia’s first album "Healing is Difficult" is an album that falls closer to slightly skewed R&B than any other genre, but "Colour the Small One" is likely to appeal more to those fans of her work with the UK purveyors of downtempo in Zero 7. "Colour the Small One" is an incredibly “internal” album, one where we feel as though we’re hearing the stream of Sia’s consciousness, listening to her thoughts as much as we are hearing her words. “And I’m addicted to the joy that the little things / Those little things / The little things they bring,” she sings in the cinematic, string-enhanced “Don’t Bring Me Down,” coming off something like Natalie Imbruglia as heard from inside the womb, all poppy chord changes and slowly builds in a soupy, near-whispered haze. “You’ve drawn me into your world / Now I too spin, limbless,” she sings in “Moon,” whispering a striking, almost violent concession of loving submission to an unnamed lover. That sense of loss of control, more contemplated than acted upon, is the essence of what "Colour the Small One" exemplifies most consistently.
Of course, such a loss of control is understandable given the inspiration for much of Sia’s music. She has mentioned that her first album was a direct reaction to the tragic death, but much of that album feel detached as if Sia was purposefully avoiding the sorrow of such catastrophe. "Colour the Small One" is the confrontation, as Sia continually talks herself through her darker thoughts. Notable in the eerie yet wonderfully written Sunday, it gives words of encouragement to those giving in to the pressures of life. While the other singles released from "Colour The Small One" don't seem to compare to the upbeat chart-toppers Sia releases today, they are still gems; Numb may take a little while to peak, but when it does, it's a beautiful moment. The last honourable mention goes out to the borderline jazzy "Where I Belong," another number about finding inner strength and embracing it.
Listening to Sia pre "1000 Forms Of Fear" (2014) brings with it a history lesson; the world of Sia ten years ago is an entirely different place to that of today. Sia’s follow-up album, "Some People Have Real Problems," is a better effort, but "Colour the Small One" is nonetheless a great album. The strongest tracks (notably “Breathe Me,” “Sweet Potato,” and “The Church of What’s Happening Now”) more than makeup for the few dull moments on the album and all of the songs perfectly illustrate Sia’s talent and prove that she’s more than just a voice on an R&B/hip-hop track.