Words are such unprecise tools. For reasons beyond my understanding, we generally do not say what we mean or mean what we say in any given situation. This is one of the main reasons that we should never consider what people say, but we should look at what they do instead. This is especially true when it comes to matters of love because issues are often muddling by high levels of emotion. This is why I don’t find songs about love appealing, they always seem disingenuous to me. They come across as inauthentic and overly sentimental. Thus I treasure pieces of music that talk about love but sound fresh to my ear. Sio makes such music.
Sio relentlessly reflects upon her experiences and ideas as a woman, relative to the otherness of men, who are both the objects of her affection and the source of her anxieties. Obviously this is not a unique state of being but she handles the inherent tension with such a masterfully light touch that her work is refreshingly appealing.
In her debut studio album, tilted SBTXTS, Sio explores all the different messages, and the associated contextual meanings, that she receives as a women living in a man’s world. The tone of her voice is without anger, pain or irritation. She sounds innocently tentative, swinging between moments of doubt, shyness and being whimsy. This lulls one into a false sense of security because it’s easy to confuse subtlety with being timid. When I dig deeper into Sio’s lyrics, I find a radical philosopher instead of a poet. In the title track, a spoken word poem recited over a hypnotic minimalistic house groove, she militantly declares her intent to artistically express herself regardless of life’s challenges, which often come with misogynistic pressures that seek to subordinate her as a woman.
Losing footing chasing dreams while other things threaten to choke me/
Holding on to blind hope hoping life won’t own me/
Bending my spine to find the lines were I am allowed to write/
My right to breath is bigger than the stead that drives your ego…this towering doubt/ that as a woman my only clout is what lies between my thighs/
And all I hear are lies so they can have a peace of it, I am sick of it…/
I can clearly see this song blazing in the background of my apartment as she mercurially rolls up a joint and I prepare my legendary omelette with all the trimmings on an easy Sunday morning.
This project has the uncanny tendency to drive my mind towards a space where I am unreservedly willing to redefine heterosexual gender roles without feeling attacked. This is because Sio mixes her feminist rhetoric with sincere expressions of venerability, which are always nascent when one is in the grips of new love. This is clearly the case in the semi-slow jam Could You.
/…see my life has been cold and insipid,
full of fear, full of tears, full of broken songs/
night has called me, I was lonely, now you hold me/
walk besides me, you my only, my truly…/
The overwhelming majority of women have internalised patriarchy. Which I find extremely off putting and disturbing. In the same way colonised Africans fill my heart with hate and homicidal impulses. Which is the reason why I generally don’t fuck with black women and their vibes. Because they are a confusing blend of all my societal frustrations bottled into a bootylicious temple of arousal which ruthlessly demands my worship without compensation. Sio restores my faith in black women’s ability to make music that does not sound cheesy or generic to my ear.
The production of this project is absolute fire. It is of a high tempo with laid back melodies and moody pads that allow the soft texture of Sio’s voice to hypnotise you. Which is to be expected considering that she worked with some of house music’s heavy hitters such as Jullian Gomez, Daev Martian and Atjazz.
This is a dope project which I personally slept on last year. I would suggest you give it a listen. I am almost, maybe, sure that you will find it to be a compelling listen.