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

LISTEN: Eliza Shaddad – ‘Heaven’

Sudanese-Scottish artist Eliza Shaddad has kept busy since last year: along with weekly Instagram live streams over the last year, she is releasing her third single of 2021, ‘Heaven’, which is a stirring anthem for anyone struggling. 

Written whilst Eliza was visiting family in hospital and then later in lockdown, the single and accompanying video are a poignant reminder that life can get better and is worth holding on to. Recorded at home in Cornwall, ‘Heaven’ has a different sound to her last single (‘Blossom’), whilst maintaining the theme of hope and fresh beginnings. It has twangy guitars and a contemporary Country–pop sound, perfectly carrying Eliza’s searing vocals, as she urges us to “keep holding on”…

Within seconds you will find yourself on a familiar sonic territory as you tap your feet along, imagining yourself on the open highway, singing this song with the wind blowing through your hair. ‘Heaven’ is a song about the recovery of faith in life or love. Both a call to hope and a plea to keep going, this uplifting song will carry us to the warm embrace of the upcoming summer sun.

‘Heaven’ is out now via Rosemundy Records/Wow and Flutter. It’s the lead single to be taken from Eliza Shaddad’s upcoming album The Woman You Want, set for release 16th July.

Fi Ni Aicead

EP: Eliza Shaddad – ‘Sept – Dec’

Ringing in 2020, Scottish-Sudanese singer Eliza Shaddad releases her new EP Sept-Dec. The songs focus on different forms of connection with other people, dealing with sex, normalcy, and friendship

Opener, ‘One Last Embrace’, is a grungy and atmospheric exploration of the swirling emotions of desire. The chorus and scratchy guitars surge throughout the song to a powerful crescendo like “a tidal wave, pulling me asunder”. 

‘Same As You’ has a lighter, dream-pop sound, featuring chiming guitar and layered vocals. The mood is bitter-sweet, capturing the nostalgia of a craving a connection between two people, despite their differences. In a similar vein, ‘Girls’ explores the memories of a close female friendship, both good and bad. The song builds slowly before the sound fills out to an emotional chorus – “I know you’re lying when you say you’re alright”. We get a sense of someone or something breaking down. 

There is much to cherish in this EP; a collection of confessional songs which allow a connection with the listener through a sense of shared experience, delivered through the lens of late ’80s/ early ’90s-inspired guitar pop. 

Sept ~ Dec is due for release on 24th January 2020. Eliza is currently on tour supporting Keane, see all the details here.

Fi Ni Aicead

Track Of The Day: Eliza Shaddad – ‘Just Goes To Show’

Hazy, nostalgic Prom visuals form the video for Eliza Shaddad‘s latest single ‘Just Goes To Show’, which is taken from her upcoming album Future, released on 26th October via Beatnik Creative. Directed by Patrick Taylor and shot in one of Eliza’s favourite venues in London, the video was a bit of a dream come true scenario for Eliza: “the song has always felt like the kind of thing that would be playing in one of those terrible but incredible 90’s movie’s prom scenes, and so I was dying to make a video that played on that.”

Eliza’s shimmering new tune is actually about the heart-cracking, desperate feeling you have just as you’re being broken up with. “Like many songs on the album [‘Just Goes To Show’] deals with themes of escape and regret, but in a rare case here it’s from the perspective of the person being left behind” explains Eliza. It’s these personal, melancholy touches and Eliza’s wonderful reverb-strewn, melodic guitar sounds that make listening to her music so enjoyable.

Eliza will be heading out on a European tour in support of her new album release this November, so make sure you catch her on one of the dates listed below. Watch the video for ‘Just Goes To Show’ and follow Eliza on Facebook for more updates.

Pre-order your copy of Future here.

Eliza Shaddad European Tour Dates 2018
November 26th – London, OSLO
November 29th – Glasgow, The ATTIC
December 10th – Hamburg – Nochtwache
December 11th – Berlin – Privatclub
December 13th – Baden – Zum Alten Hasen
December 14th – Nyon – La Parenthese
December 15th – Paris – Le 1999

Photo Credit: Mel Tjeong

Kate Crudgington