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Album Review: Shaznay Lewis – Pages

3 min read
"With this album Shaznay Lewis makes a comeback seem effortless" - check out our full review of All Saint's icon @ShaznayOfficial brand new solo LP...

After making her name in the girl group All Saints, Shaznay Lewis found success as a solo artist with a top ten song in 2004. After a 20-year hiatus, her new album Pages picks up where she left off, combining the dance-pop that made her famous with a more mature explorative edge.

The album opens with Missiles a catchy 2000s-inspired number that’s dance style drumline that sets up the fast-paced energy. Followed by Pick You Up (feat Self EsteemLewis keeps the pace with another dance song. Self Esteem brings some of her iconic harmonies and her voice works well with Lewiss to uplift and elevate the sound of the track. With Kiss of Life, the sound gets more experimental, utilising synth sounds and layered vocals to create a futuristic hypnotic sound. But Good Mourning brings back the 2000s inspirations, with a more straightforward pop sound. It’s executed flawlessly and shows off Lewis’s gorgeous vocals with the rap section by General Levy enhancing the 2000 pop style.

The next songs tie more to the experimental sound of Kiss of Life. Supposed To Be is an R&B-inspired song, with a positive vibe and interesting sound mixing. While Got to Let Go explores the end of a relationship and deciding to stay or leave, by positioning layered voices so it sounds almost like two separate voices arguing. This gives the song a unique sound shows off Lewis’s range. Tears to the Floor, is a more classic club-sounding song, with a similar tone to J Lo’s On the Floor. While Bruises, which discusses a bad relationship, is a little slower and more contemplative despite still having a dance drumline.

With the next two songs, Lewis explores current events and social issues. Awake (Motu) explores civil rights in the UK, asking “Is this how we want to be?” Lewis delivers an impassioned plea for change. Peaches however is a far more subtle song, the lyrics which at first seem simple hint at “something hidden”. The song is inspired by the devil’s punchbowl in the Missipi in 1865 where thousands of formally enslaved people lost their lives. With the song Lewis offers a eulogy, and a sense of grief hidden by the beauty that’s grown over it. The emotive lyrics and powerful message makes Peaches perhaps the most impactful song on the album.

The last two songs pull back to more catchy pop fare, with Miracles featuring a fun piano line and Hearts in Danger being a positive love song, with the dance sound of the earlier tracks on the album. After the double impact of Awake (motu) and Peaches, it was always going to be difficult to return to the happier sound, but Lewis delivered with two solid pop songs.

With this album Shaznay Lewis makes a comeback seem effortless. The perspective and growth that the time away from the spotlight has brought her, combined with her stellar vocals makes this a career stand out, and definitely makes me hope her next hiatus will be a lot shorter.