Saya Gray - 19 Masters Music Album Reviews

Saya Gray - 19 Masters Music Album Reviews
On her debut album, the Toronto-based singer radiates anxiety and yearning about love, offering an unadulterated document of a fluid creative process and truly weird, impulsive thoughts.

Saya Gray writes her songs in what she describes as a flow state: She “blacks out,” moving from concept to finished song within an hour. The process is bodily and intuitive, resulting in music that pops like bubble wrap. Funny quips peek through guitar work that’s alternately finger-plucked and distorted; slippery synths coat dense wordplay (“Told my temper that tampons tamper with temptation” on “Saving Grace”) that provides more texture than literal meaning. The breadth and chaos of these songs can be overwhelming at times, but the ultimate appeal is the authenticity: There’s a real pleasure in getting such an unadulterated document of someone’s creative process and truly weird, impulsive thoughts.

Her debut album, 19 Masters, radiates anxiety and yearning about love, which Gray spends the entire record running from. She’s consumed by a self-destructive impulse to leave someone before they leave her, she conceives of intimacy as a prelude to abandonment, and she loves people who can’t handle the affection she has to offer. Gray’s self-awareness about her negative romantic impulses is devastating on songs like album highlight “EMPATHY 4 BETHANY” where she sings, “Honestly we’ll get too close, I’ll go ghost, you’ll have my clothes in hopes you remember [me],” made especially poignant by an amber-toned trumpet and piano solo that meanders behind her. You feel the intensity of the love Gray experiences, and the wistfulness that she feels in knowing she will lose it.

Often, the tension in Gray’s relationships and in her own self-appraisal comes from her perception that other people are conforming too much to unnamed societal pressures. On “LEECHES ON MY THESIS!” she’s upset that someone she loved used her to network; on “TOOO LOUD!” someone lets her down because they’re “part of the machine.” “Saya you don’t need to conform, place your knees on the ceiling and the ceiling will turn into the floor,” she reminds herself on the latter. And on “S.H.T.” she criticizes someone for hating “the imitation game” yet “echoing everything the players say.” It’s fitting that an artist who makes such esoteric music is so concerned with preserving her individuality, but the anti-conformity is more a broad sentiment than a fully fleshed idea.

In general, Gray’s technical skill sometimes supersedes her intention. As a musician who has been playing music professionally since she was 13, she’s able to quickly construct complex sounds and intricate wordplay, but it’s not always clear how they coalesce. Listening to this album, I’m reminded of reading Eye Spy books as a kid, partly because of the childlike exploration of these arrangements, and also because I find myself excavating through a mass of gorgeous baubles searching for something specific: a single thread of meaning, a moment of clarity. “SAVING GRACE,” for example, is a lovely collage of eerie synth sounds, Gray’s gauzy falsetto, and heady lyricism: “We looked up at the night, held the sky with our minds.” It’s vivid and captivating, but almost impossible to follow what’s happening in the song, even after many listens.

That approach to songwriting is intentional. Gray said she prefers to use her music to communicate “a straight passage in frequency rather than trying to decipher in words then trying to convey THAT to another human.” She uses her words to convey sounds and impulses rather than narrative arcs. Without many articulated messages or overarching sentiments, the meaning comes in flashes. It can be a disorienting listening experience, one that asks you to find pleasure in cacophony and still-developing ideas.

There’s also so much secondhand joy that comes from the conviction with which she presents her inner world. She treats all of her ideas, whether they are passing thoughts, poetic observations, or crushing feelings, with the utmost respect and care. And in the moments when all the moving pieces of a song come together just right, the results are devastating and illuminating. On “CERVICAL CEDRIC,” Gray sings with resolution, her voice emerging from a whirlwind of bubbling synth and grating guitar. She elevates a straightforward sentiment—“You said you could handle my love”—into a whirlwind of rage and disappointment. There are moments when the emotions feel familiar, but mostly Gray’s thoughts belong to her alone. So you leave this album determined to trust your impulse, and find beauty in your messiest moments.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Saya Gray - 19 Masters Music Album Reviews Saya Gray - 19 Masters Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on June 22, 2022 Rating: 5


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