While 2008’s fantastic Some People Have Real Problems found Sia taking a confident step toward a more polished sound and away from the somber, folktronica of her first two solo records, her latest effort, We Are Born, takes a headlong leap into pop territory—and it suits her well. Armed with an elastic voice that makes her sound like she could be Duffy’s grittier, more soulful older sister, Sia saunters and vamps through an engaging string of disco- and funk-infused pop tunes. The album’s sunny sonic palette and dance-influenced aesthetic is no surprise coming from executive producer Greg Kurstin, one half of the Bird and the Bee.
If Some People Have Real Problems, upon its 2008 release, felt like Sia's "pop move," its warmly personable brew of mellow coffee shop soul offering a more approachable contrast to the sober soundtrack-fodder chill-out with which she -- and in particular, her increasingly ubiquitous, jazzily innocuous voice -- had become near-synonymous, what can we make of We Are Born? With this, her fourth proper album, recorded for yet another new label (pop/hip-hop titan Jive), the Australian singer has made a massive pop leap: a sunshiny, highly caffeinated set of frothy dance tracks and feel-good lite-funk. And it's a great look. It's hard not to smile in agreement when she sings, in the tremendously hooky chorus to the irresistible, disco-fied first single (a revamped Lauren Flax collaboration): "You've changed.
Sia Furler may still be best known for her silken vocals on down-tempo touchstones like Zero 7’s ”Destiny” and her own ”Breathe Me.” But a girl cannot live on gauzy balladeering alone. On We Are Born the chanteuse explores more caffeinated avenues: cut-a-shag-rug funk (”Clap Your Hands”), finger-snappy soul (”Never Gonna Leave Me,” ”Stop Trying”), and even squiggly disco (”You’ve Changed”). It’s party music with a heart.
Originally from Adelaide, Sia Furler moved to the UK in the mid 1990s to launch her career as a downtempo R&B artist, gaining attention first as the voice of Zero 7 and then as a solo artist with the odd hit single. But over 10 years and four studio albums, Furler has slowly moved away from the effervescent ballads associated with songs like Zero 7's "Destiny" and her biggest solo hit, 2006's "Breathe Me". And according to Furler, We Are Born is the album she's wanted to make since 2006's Colour the Small One.
Sia sounds much more cheerful and upbeat on this album than ever before, and that's not a bad thing. This new perky pop side of her personality generates some great moments on We Are Born even if she sometimes seems to be trying a little too hard for mainstream crossover. Sure, she's got a great ear for a hook and a pretty voice, but it's her quirkiness that sets her apart and has garnered her so much attention over the years.
On Sia’s We Are Born, the Australian chanteuse switches gears from her more somber early work and creates an infectiously happy dance-pop album. There are many factors contributing to the album’s lighthearted jouissance—Furler is in a serious relationship with JD Samson (of Le Tigre); she was inspired by her icons Cyndi Lauper and Madonna; the songs were co-written by Dan Carey; Nick Valensi (The Strokes) plays electric guitar; and the album was produced by Greg Kurstin, who’s produced similarly energetic albums for the likes of Lily Allen. From its insanely catchy first single, “Clap Your Hands”, to the dance-command that is “Bright Night”, this is an album for happy times.
Barely breathing Sia must be eager to distance herself from “Breathe Me,” the wounded piano meditation made famous by Six Feet Under. Though a far cry from her mid-tempo Muzak of 2008, fifth studio LP We Are Born is as mild-tempered as most ‘90s Top 40 pop, lacking the sexual innuendo and oomph of her label Jive Records’ past luminaries. Too-brief forays into disco (“You’ve Changed”) and pop rock (“Bring Night” and “Stop Trying”) would have benefited from collaborators other than Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi and The Bird and the Bee’s Greg Kurstin; “Clap Your Hands” is a tamer version of any given Rapture track, and “Hurting Me Now” sounds like a Lily Allen B-side.
A change of direction for the Australian singer, here presenting post-Gaga pop. Chris Lo 2010 Sia is a woman in demand. Since releasing her solo debut OnlySee in 1997, the Australian singer-songwriter (full name Sia Furler) has become as renowned for her covers and collaborations as for her studio output. She has contributed extensive vocals for UK ambient electronic duo Zero 7, performed a duet of You’re the One that I Want with Beck, sung backing vocals for Flight of the Conchords and even co-wrote tracks for the latest Christina Aguilera album.