ALBUM: Eliza Shaddad – ‘The Woman You Want’

Desiring to be the best person she can be, in spite of not always feeling capable of accomplishing said desire, Sudanese-Scottish artist Eliza Shaddad challenged herself to create an emotionally honest album; unafraid of showing her true vulnerable self, to both herself and the listener.

Following the release of her debut record, 2018’s Future – and EPs, 2020’s Sept ~ Dec, 2016’s Run, and 2014’s Waters – Eliza’s sophomore effort, The Woman You Want is the culmination of a year-long self-reflection and reconciliation of her identity. A collection of nine deeply personal tracks that demonstrate resilience, insecurity, and raw emotion.

Opening with the jangling guitars of ‘The Man I Admire’, Eliza explores contrasting themes of intimacy and melancholy (“Darling I know you feel blue / But where is the man I admire?”), her soft vocals dovetailing into the compassionate folk-rock anthem ‘Heaven’, a poignant reminder that life can get better – “Yeah, I want you to keep holding on / I know life can be unkind / And you’ve got heaven on your mind / But I want you to keep holding on.”

Eliza wears her influences on her sleeve for ‘Fine & Peachy’, channelling nineties legend Alanis Morissette, and proudly sticking her middle finger up with brutally honest, sick-of-this-shit lyrics (“Fuck you just tell me what you want to say / Instead of screwing with my head for days”), complemented by the rebellious groove of guitarist Michael Jablonka and drummer Glyn Daniels, known for their work with Micheal Kiwanuka and The Staves respectively.

The ethereal guitar melodies and syncopated drum beats of the introspective title track, ‘The Woman You Want’, lead into shimmering distortion and electronic experimentation on ‘The Waiting Game’ and ‘Tired Of Trying’; beautiful, haunting, and reminiscent of Björk, post-1995’s Post. ‘In The Morning (Grandmother Song)’ follows as a delicate yet complex soundscape of soaring multi-layered instrumentals infused with Eliza’s mesmerising voice; a crescendo of emotion showcasing her impressive vocal range. Next, ‘Now You’re Alone’ starts off somber, lonely, but as Eliza’s initial near-whisper grows louder with intensity – an orchestral swell backing the heart-wrenching lyrics – the song becomes cathartic; one you will find yourself singing along to in those dark moments of isolation.

Closing the album is ‘Blossom’, a song that radiates positive energy and encapsulates the record’s central theme: growth.

Produced by BJ Jackson, and recorded at her home studio/bedroom in Cornwall, The Woman You Want is the evolution of Eliza Shaddad’s career and womanhood, an intimate insight into Eliza as an independent artist – a friend, a wife, a daughter/granddaughter. A self-proclaimed “ethereal grunger growing up”.

The Woman You Want is out now via Rosemundy Records/Wow and Flutter. Order here.

Ken Wynne

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