With autumn frost creeping up slowly, my annual shift in listening choices has also begun to set in. As days get darker, I lean towards moodier, more pensive music to accompany me on my daily travels or to tuck into bed with before falling asleep. One of my favourites to ride out the change of seasons with is SZA, whose immersive lyrics and kaleidoscopic soundscapes have kept me shamelessly thirsting for her next release. SZA, better known as Solana Rowe, is based out of the US and is currently signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, alongside Schoolboy Q and Kendrick Lamar (you may have heard of him). Her most recent EP, Z, released in April 2014, feels like you’re tripping in a smoky boudoir, candles lingering, velvet under your feet and something strong and sweet in your glass. Much of my discovery of her took place when I was living and going to school in Montreal. Long subway rides underneath the city were accompanied by her dreamy vocals and contemplative lyrics. I found that each song captured not only a mood or state of mind, but a question. Through her storytelling, it feels as though SZA is talking herself across her memory. Although she does not always come to a conclusion, she brings up some very interesting perspectives. Take Z’s “Green Mile,” where the artist recounts:
“Lately I been questioning,
Am I all that I pretend to be?
I doubt it.”
Over Z’s moody beats and her previous EP S’ spacey, cotton-candy trap, SZA’s lyrics pose questions but her voice stands out as both soulful and assertive and holds its own alongside the various soundscapes. With her music I am never listening to it for just the beat or just the lyrics; they blend seamlessly as a whole track. One of my most-listened to songs, “Castles” from S, is a perfect example of this. The swirling, gauzy electronic backtrack fits perfectly with her soft, wispy voice and contrast the singer's expression of self-doubt and struggle in finding her own place.
SZA’s next album, A, has no release date as of yet. To keep up with the “glitter trap” star, you can go to her twitter or tumblr. For the record, my favourites of hers are tied between “Sobriety” and “Sweet November,” both from the Z EP. To keep you going for now, check out SZA's blissful collaboration with Wale in "The Need to Know":