Looking at Shanaz Dorsett’s Facebook page, her list of influences is immediately evident in the tracks she creates. Citing Sade, Santigold and Bjork as inspiration and Lauryn Hill, Mike Skinner, Massive Attack, Regina Spektor and Ghostpoet as comparisons toward her sound and style, however in terms of the audacity of her music, British Soul artist Dorsett is so much more than comparisons.
This is evidenced immediately on her debut EP Mother Tongue – which we have the pleasure of premiering – with opening track “Four Walls And A Garden” catalyzing the artist’s tenacity. The song is first and foremost downright cool, Shanaz has a distinct voice personified by her London accent capable of telling stories that rise above and beyond the music she is singing along to. Both lyrically and musically, “Four Walls And A Garden” is a track that stands out, consisting of an instantly catchy melody and an ebb and flow like beat. At times the track pauses, consisting only of Dorsett’s isolated vocals, here is where the singer’s voice really delivers; it is undoubtedly strong, indescribably passionate. Overall, “Four Walls And A Garden” is an incredibly powerful and stylishly cool start to the EP.
The second track, named after the shoes that every child begged their parents for, has an immediate retro feel to it. “Air Max 90” begins with a harp accompanied by reoccurring bass and drums. In fact, the track is constantly layered with different instruments throughout, giving it a full booming sound. It is when Shanaz starts singing however that the track really gets going. The first time the singer hits “90” of the chorus, with its high pitched nuance, it will seriously send a shiver down your spine. It’s a nice personal touch and one that really makes the artist and the track stand out.
“Daughter Karma” is evidence enough that Dorsett is able to write a catchy tune. It is also quite a bold statement; lyrics such as “history’s a bitch” as well as “until you get a daughter, that’s what I call karma” constantly re-emerge throughout the song. It gives the track a sense of attitude, and solidifies Dorsett’s prowess as a songwriter, able to make lyrics flow incredibly well in coherence with her music. The song, whilst seemingly personal, sets the singer up as someone above and beyond the situation, able to look back without regret. If anything, this track shows how strong Dorsett is in every sense of the word, in regards to musicianship, song writing and personality.
Lyrics such as “men are men and money is evil”, “respect your elders, one day you’ll be one”, “do what I say, not what I do” and “If you can’t stand the heat get out the kitchen” could make fourth track “Big People’s Business” a series of life lessons, which in a sense they are, albeit wrapped around an addictive beat. If anything, “Big People’s Business” feels like a song about personal growth.
Final track “Don’t Let Me” featuring Blu , initially has a retro feel not that dissimilar to “Air Max 90”, before being overtaken by harsh hitting drums. “Don’t Let Me” is a plea from the singer asking, “don’t let me love you”. The song addresses a variety of different themes, including failed relationships and personal problems, yet its extent is disguised in the form of a sweet, yet powerful vocal. It really pays to just listen to the lyrics on this one, a problem easily identifiable by many yet told from a unique personal point of view.
All in all, Mother Tongue is a great EP, passionately crafted with a highly addictive sound and a great voice. With a sound that is incredibly original and unique, the EP is an ever-changing experience from track to track. You can tell that this record is definitely a series of personal feelings being portrayed yet rather differently from an incredibly strong person with extensive talent. Referring back to Dorsett’s Facebook page, where it states “she is unafraid to stir the water” is definitely apt. A bold statement and a delight to listen to, Shanaz Dorsett has definitely got it.