Effortlessly blending influences from her diverse heritage, Sudanese Scottish artist Eliza Shaddad has released her new album, The Woman You Want. A truly delightful listening experience, it plays as a manifestation of an artist whose lyrical prowess and devoted musicianship has allowed them to finely hone their skills. It was mixed by Grammy Award winner Sam Okell (PJ Harvey/Celeste/Graham Coxon), mastered by Tim Rowkins (Rina Sawayama) and features Michael Jablonka (Michael Kiwanuka) on guitar. With luminaries such as these in tow, the album boasts impeccably well-judged musicality.
Recorded at home in Cornwall with producer and husband B J Jackson, The Woman You Want sees the critically-acclaimed artist exploring new dynamic soundscapes, as she delves into classical guitar harmonica, mandolins, drum machines, and strings. The three tracks already released earlier this year, ‘Blossom’, ‘Heaven’ and ‘Now You’re Alone’ sparked excitement, as we caught a glimpse of the dynamic range of the album.
Opening the album is the short and gentle track ‘The Man I Admire’, which introduces some of the main themes as Shaddad explores feelings of compliance in sour relationships. Following on, we hear folk-pop sounds with soft grungy undertones on ‘Heaven’ and ‘Fine & Peachy’, intertwined with infectious guitar hooks and intimate lyrics that allow the artist’s personality to shine through. Similarly, ‘In The Morning (Grandmother Song)’ is a delicate number, with intricate instrumental work that illuminates the sombre tone, before lifting alongside Shaddad’s mesmerising vocals.
Lulling us into the depths of the album, tracks like ‘The Woman You Want’, ‘Waiting Game’ and ‘Tired of Trying’ introduce us to the kaleidoscopic influences that make this such a vivid listening experience.
Experimenting with electronic sounds and animated guitar work, ‘Waiting Game’ and ‘Tired of Trying’ edge themselves along with a dramatic intention. These tracks give the album an ominous feel that recalls the sounds of acts like Portishead and Björk. Taking us through the seasons, the album finishes with the dainty and uplifting ‘Blossom’, which matches its spring-like title and reinforces the sense of things coming together.
Words by Aisha Fatunmbi-Randall