Sia stimulates the senses on '1 000 Forms of Fear'

On her sixth studio album, singer and songwriter Sia Furler proves you can be minimal on fame and still maximise on talent.

On her sixth studio album, singer and songwriter Sia Furler proves you can be minimal on fame and still maximise on talent.

Sia – 1 000 Forms of Fear (Sony Music)

Uncertain. Anguished. Human.
These are some of the words you’d probably use to describe Sia Furler’s latest release, 1 000 Forms of Fear. And you would be right. 

Many know Sia only as the voice on David Guetta’s Titanium or Flo Rida’s Wild Ones. She hasn’t enjoyed a lot of popularity as a solo artist – not to her demise. The Australian singer and songwriter is known for being disapproving of fame. She hates being in the limelight and does minimal press. 

Being the go-to writer for many a celeb-singer including the likes of Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue and Beyoncé (the list goes on) suited her well – all the artistry with none of the parade. 

But with this album, the quirk-laden songstress manages to strike a balance, albeit with much effort on the fine line between being complicit in the music industry and compromising it all together.    

Even the video for the album’s first single, Chandelier, does not feature the singer, and instead opts for a young dancer clad in leotard and blonde wig with blunt bangs – Sia’s own hairstyle. The album cover is stamped with the image of the same wig, and live performances – for purposes of the promotion of the album – have been done with Sia often hardly visible, singing with her back toward the audience and accompanied by other stars or dancers in the same wig.   

While she refuses (in practice) to condone that there is anything pop star about her, the album (pop-y in nature) does the very opposite. It is, in fact, the ultimate pop album. Steadfast in nature and without too many surprises, interesting and easy to listen to, engaging and not lacking in mass appeal. By far, more accessible in nature than her other more fringe releases but still resonant with the artist’s unmatched vocal acrobatics. 

There is a measure of control to her voice that enables her to belt it out in a punchy fashion on tracks like Chandelier, while she manages to slide smoothly on a wave of legato on other tracks like Elastic Heart featuring Diplo and The Weeknd. You will probably never get a selfie from Sia, regardless of how successful this album is (and it is … in it’s first week of release, it nabbed the top spot on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums) but you will get vocal dynamics untarnished by autotune.   

1 000 Forms of Fear is a representation of pain not unknown to the artist. Such is her fear of fame that in 2010 it nearly drove her to an overdose and each track resembles pain, thematically. From the highs to the lows. Lyrically, it’s messy. When she’s not crying for help as an alcoholic on Chandelier, she’s facing her demons in Big Girls Cry

Even so, the more visible Sia becomes in her music, albeit metaphorically, the more she chooses to fade into the background. And perhaps that’s just what the pop music industry needs. An invasion of artists like Sia, who’s music speaks for itself, so they don’t need to.

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Haji Mohamed Dawjee

Haji Mohamed Dawjee became Africa’s first social media editor in a newsroom at the Mail & Guardian, where she went on to work as deputy digital editor and a disruptor of the peace through a weekly column. A stint as the program manager for Impact Africa – a grant-disbursing fund for African digital journalists – followed. She now pursues her own writing full time by enraging readers of EWN and Women 24 with weekly and bi-monthly columns respectively. She also contributes to the Sunday Times and a range of other publications. Mohamed Dawjee's inaugural book of essays: Sorry, not sorry: Experiences of a brown woman in a white South Africa, is due for release by Penguin Random House in April 2018.Follow her on Twitter: @sage_of_absurd Read more from Haji Mohamed Dawjee

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