The singer/songwriter Solána Imani Rowe, better known as SZA, is an R&B/Soul artist who can be best described as someone who is recognized for her tremendous talent and unconventional melodies that captivate listeners almost instantly. When I first sampled the album, I was drawn in by the emotional depth and truth sung through her song "Supermodel" and from there, every song on the first studio album (Ctrl) demanded you listen to better understand her life stories through her unique sounds and vocal range. Upon listening, I knew that SZA was the kind of artist you must see live - because her music comes from within, and live music from someone who creates their own work masterfully shines best when witnessed in the moment.
By the time SZA entered Sacramento's Ace of Spades, the room erupted with cheers and there wasn't a single person in the sold-out venue who didn't visibly become excited to see her take the stage. With songs like "Supermodel" and "Normal Girl" SZA is given the opportunity to belt the soulful tunes that show a more vulnerable side as well as the complications of her relationships. SZA doesn't simply sing these songs though, she actually prefaces them by relating to each issue or emotion she felt while penning the tracks - bringing in that element of relatability to her artistry in ways that people are quickly realizing resonates with their own lives.
When it comes to her album, SZA performed the entirety with songs such as "Love Galore" giving SZA the chance to really showcase herself as a performer, dancing around the stage to the bass-heavy beat and singing along to the Travis Scott verses as if she herself is able to enjoy the captivating synth additions and arrangements that set her music apart from other mainstream artists. Despite the venue starting later than usual, SZA made a point to acknowledge she was going to utilize every moment - even going as far as adding a few songs and coming out for an encore performance of “twoAM.”
SZA has (and radiates) the epitome of individuality, as she took the time to dance across the stage feeling unrehearsed and providing that carefree cool factor that makes her a force in the industry when mixed with her musicality. The Ctrl singer has no need to follow traditional paths to gain notoriety being someone who wears what she wants, sings what she wants and spreads messages that promote self exploration and the hardships that sometimes force you to reach that point. This is better told through her song “20 something” detailing her feelings of being stuck in between transition with love and maturing - a self analytical anthem for a generation that was one of her most intimate performances that exceeded any potential studio produced version of her talent.
Aside from some of the slower ballads, SZA has other offerings such as “Go Gina” the jazz-themed song that will inspire you to move to the mesmerizing rasp in the artist’s range. Though SZA has her own distinct voice, her songs all manage to feel entirely different than each track with her eclectic song “Anything” to laidback hypnotizing sounds of “Broken Clocks” and “Doves in the Wind” featuring Kendrick Lamar. As SZA performed the album to the changing neon Ctrl sign behind her, it sparked an epiphany that she is going to become a prominent singer/songwriter for years to come, and if there’s any musical justice in the world - we’ll be seeing SZA receiving much more well earned respect and praise ( my money is on a few Grammys as well.)
If you will be seeing SZA live on her Ctrl Tour, the one thing you should feel is genuine excitement because with an inspiring artist like this, you won’t be disappointed.