Written by Carina Ly
SZA, one of my favourite songstresses to kick back and relax to, graces us with her sophomore album Ctrl and without a doubt it is one of my albums of 2017. Rather underrated, SZA, formally known as Solana Imani Rowe, embraces her low-key identity, allowing her individuality to seep through whilst carving her messages in her sound, and always refining her sound that indulges a sweet mix of neo-soul, alternative R&B and some funk. Family to Top Dawg Entertainment, her music is liberating filled with many themes of love interests, relationships, independence, and something that always soothes your soul.
Ctrl is an album for the girls; one you listen to during the early hours of morning while you sit on the window ledge with your headphones in, sipping on your herbal tea as you look wondrously into the distance. An album to heal your soul from all that you’ve encountered in failed relationships. The mood you quickly grasp after the first hearing is melancholic and a blissful sadness. SZA sets the mood throughout the entire album through use of clever production beats and instrumentals that’s soothing, ethereal and minimal in aid of her moving voice that leaves you reminiscing and pondering on life.
I felt as if I was thrown into the deep end after listening to the first track Supermodel. This song triggers so many emotions and thoughts that I am sure many girls can relate to. Not feeling enough? Not being pretty enough? Being left for another girl? SZA captured every essence of a woman’s insecurities and vulnerability in this song and she did it beautifully. Hearing her sing such moving lyrics like “Why I can’t stay alone just by myself? Wish I was comfortable just with myself” against the guitar instrumentals makes it an unforgettable song.
Another favourite of mine is Broken Clocks. The sampling of River Tiber hits home for me having previously reviewed his music and knowing how sombre and chilling it is. SZA switches the mood up, having realised she cannot balance her then relationship and working life. At the age of 17, she worked as a bartender in a strip club, a culture she almost fell in love with; the fast money and rebellious life was all a thrill for her teenage life then. However, it became all too much and she left him. Here, SZA sounds stronger, more grounded and more assured with what she knows and wants.
I’m sure all of us in our 20s can all relate to the finale track 20 Something. Still trying to find ourselves, still trying to find meaning in things in life. Trying to balance love with life, friendships and family. Trying to have the most fulfilling young years during your 20s. SZA lays herself bare, and her vulnerability is comforting to hear. Comforting because we don’t have to have it all figured out, and that’s okay. SZA’s overall message in 20 Something is to let life takes it course regardless of any setbacks and enjoy it.
The messages behind this album means a lot to me, in ways I never thought I could connect with. Ctrl is a monumental album for my life right now, something I can somewhat relate to and I will always cherish it. It is a monumental album and for that I want to commemorate SZA for letting herself go, and creating such an amazing classic.
Listen to 20 Something below.