ARTIST OF THE MONTH: SIA | SOME PEOPLE HAVE REAL PROBLEMS (2008)
South Australia singer-songwriter Sia Kate Isobelle Furler is a musical treasure. But it wasn’t always this way. She wasn’t noticed until after leaving her acid jazz band called Crisp, who had two albums: "Word and the Deal," and "Delirium" for clearer skies. She worked her way into the hearts of the British, with her chart-topping single "Taken for Granted" on her first big studio release album; "Healing is Difficult," back in 2000. In 2008, she released "Some People Have Real Problems" under Hear Music Records. The album was packed with beautifully lazy, melancholic tunes and delivered a production job highlighting her voice's best aspects. This is helped by some of Beck's band and the boy himself on backing vocals. With this album, the theme seems to be built around relationships. Sia talks about breakups and the conversations leading to them, lying in bed and fighting with your loved one, and getting over that love you lost, et cetera.
The most accurate test is that she can take a standard cover version and own it: It's an unusual step to first release a live version of "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 impressive "Death By Chocolate" makes the 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 were 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.
When in focus and awakened vocally, Sia is a fantastic singer with a sweet, beguiling voice. The power ballad "Soon We'll Be Found" indicates that she can sing a verse with clarity when she puts her mind to it. Between her captivating vocals and the melodic, "Let's not fight, I'm tired / Can we just sleep tonight / Turn away it's just there's nothing left to say / Turn around, I know we're lost / But soon we'll be found," is among the strongest on the album. It is a shame that she does not do it more often on the album, as her voice is fantastic when she lets it run wild. More upbeat tracks, like sunny old school soul "Day Too Soon" and thrusting piano pop "The Girl You Lost To Cocaine," bring out the best in her. Plucky bass and clap-happy beat mesh with a spirited hook on "Playground," proving Sia can creep around a song and be listenable at times.
You can appreciate the new recordings of Sia because the Australian stands out from the crowd of similar pop singers. Nevertheless, her latest recordings are fading away from the older ones. And we don't have to go back to the days of the dazzling Healing Is Difficult. It is enough to mention "Some People Have Real Problems." Maybe the chorus is more difficult to sing along with the artist, but they excel in quality and melody. Sia's head can have a lot of different worries. However, there are no songs that the singer cannot interest the audience. At the heart of "Some People Have Real Problems" is a grown-up and brave album of jazz-pop. It deserves your attention.