By Lewis Lockridge // Contributing Writer
Sia Furler’s path to a solo career is anything but uninteresting, and her latest album, This is Acting, reinforces this. The Australian singer-songwriter began her career in the ’90s, originally joining Australian-based acid jazz band Crisp, and eventually going on to join British electronic group Zero 7.
Known for her dynamite soulful vocals, Sia began her solo career in 1997, recording several studio albums before going on hiatus, unable to handle the weight of her own success. Eventually, she found renewed popularity writing for other artists, including Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Beyonce and Rihanna.
After the success of her song “Chandelier,” however, everything changed for Sia — again. Originally written for Rihanna but released on Sia’s 2014 album, 1,000 Forms of Fear, the track earned her four Grammy nominations.
For her seventh studio album, This is Acting, Sia records self-written tracks that were rejected by A-listers, making them into something beautiful in a way that only Sia can do.
The album’s lead single, “Alive,” was written during a session for Adele’s third studio album, 25, but was tossed out at the last minute. The song is filled with a beautiful hook that exploits the breathtaking rasp in Sia’s voice.
The second single and the album’s opener, “Bird Set Free,” was also written for Adele. It talks about Adele’s struggle with her vocal cords several years ago and, while it gives listeners a taste of how Adele felt during that time, Sia delivers the lyrics with a fiery passion to drill the message of preservation even if something tries to keep you from achieving victory:
“But there’s a scream inside that we all try to hide / We hold on so tight, we cannot deny / Eats us alive, oh it eats us alive / Yes, there’s a scream inside that we all try to hide.”
“Cheap Thrills” and “Reaper” are both tracks intended for Rihanna, and both are upbeat and sound like they came straight from a Brit-pop lover’s dream. They also act like the parents to “Move Your Body,” another dance-out party anthem. “Cheap Thrills” sounds like it should be played in the background while getting ready to go to a club:
“Now I fly, hit the high notes / I have a voice, have a voice, hear me roar tonight / You held me down / But I fought back loud.”
Lyrically, “Reaper” can be categorized as being the oddball of the dancing-trio. The song tries to remain upbeat and empowering, but due to its dark natured chorus, it comes off as being a strange song to dance too. On one hand, Sia talks about dancing with the wind in her hair, but she retracts that and sings about being followed by a dark cloud.
The only song that was actually meant for This is Acting is “One Million Bullets.” While not on par with “Chandelier” in terms of vocals, it’s still a beautiful power ballad that gives off the melodic and haunting themes Sia is known for. On the second verse, Sia draws out the last word of each sentence, adding a bit more flavor to an already beautiful song.
Overall, This is Acting is a triumphant successor to 1,000 Forms of Fear. It begs the question that perhaps Sia should have her music rejected more often, so that she can produce more albums as beautiful as this one.