The Road Back to Music Journalism #4: Sonya Titus’ Songs on SoundCloud
My First Music Review Tweet
I think I originally ran across Sonya Titus thanks to a promoted post on Facebook. She has released music on Red Dragon Records, and I was targeted by Facebook with one of Red Dragon’s sponsored links. I think this was because I had previously followed a link from publisher Allen Foster’s Songwriter’s Monthly (when he was publishing it online) about one of Red Dragon’s other artists. Regardless, I followed the link, heard Sonya’s song “Now,” and downloaded it. At the time, I was only listening to music from my PC playlist, so I was really only checking out music that was offered as free downloads. If the song sounded interesting, I downloaded it, added it to my daily playlist (which I listened to whenever I telecommuted), and if I liked the song after several listens, it remained on my playlist. Sonya’s “Now” was a song that only got better and more memorable with each listen. As such, it became the first song about which I posted a music review tweet.
Why This Was a Step on the Road Back
It was only 140 characters, but it was my first public “review” of newly-discovered music in more than a decade. Since then, I’m pretty sure I’ve tweeted more about Sonya than any other artist I’ve written about. What a voice! But I’ll let my review elaborate on that…
Review of Sonya Titus’ songs on SoundCloud
I’ll focus on Sonya’s studio recordings; in other words, I’ll skip the live recordings. First, let me say that “Now” has strong, soaring pop (slow, soft pop) vocals and is catchy. Oh, did you already read that, perhaps in an embedded tweet? Let’s try again, then.
“Now” was the first song I downloaded and listened to. The sound of this mid-tempo soft pop tune alone is instantly captivating. Sonya’s voice soars, and her trademark style is most apparent in her ability to carrying any vowels through multiple notes and, it seems, several-syllables. (In “Now,” though the “ooh”s carry much of the song, if you want to hear what I think Sonya does especially distinctively well, listen for the extended “I”s.) Oh, the overall song — its tempo, the ample soaring vocals, the variety, and the memorable lyrical hooks — are enough to make this perhaps the song of the summer of 2013, if only it had received widespread radio play, but there is something distinctive about Sonya’s vocals, and it isn’t obvious exactly what it is. I may be overthinking it — it could simply be the combination of elements in her distinctive, high, soaring, versatile, sweet-yet-strong voice, but I think it’s most obvious when she extends her vowels.
Shortly after I discovered “Now,” Sonya released a video for “Love Transfusion.” This song features more traditionally-structured, straightforward songwriting. With Sonya’s vocals soaring through it, “Love Transfusion” is a heartfelt, memorable love (or not) ballad with dynamic transitions.
More recently, Sonya has added two more full original songs, “OK in the Morning” and “Too Late,” to SoundCloud, as well as a cover of “Stay With Me.” The originals are a couple more of my favorites from her song collection. “OK in the Morning” is about what you’d expect, and is a hopeful tune, softly energetic yet mellow but with interesting, dynamic transitions. “Too Late,” meanwhile, opens softly and never really builds much, with her voice sweetly weaving its way through the lyrics. If I were me in charge of ordering the songs on her album, I might close with this, as it would bring a collection of songs to a satisfying conclusion. I almost don’t need to write about the cover — someone with a softly powerful, versatile voice like Sonya’s is bound to do a top-shelf rendition of “Stay With Me,” and she doesn’t disappoint.
A Look Ahead
I have heard the unreleased songs that will eventually complete Sonya’s album, and I can attest to the fact that those yet-to-be-shared are as good as those on SoundCloud, though “Now” is still and will likely always be my favorite. (It has topped my personal playlist for two years now; the song has staying power. So if you spot me around town singing “we are beautiful/just the way we are,” yes, I have this song in my head.) I look forward to being able to review an entire Sonya Titus album one of these days. In the more immediate future, I am excited to finally get the chance to see Sonya perform live. Please come join me on Thursday, October 29th. I’ll be in London, enjoying Sonya Titus’ live performance at The Troubadour.