• Fatima Sheekhuna

Sample Sessions: Shay Lia - Solaris

Sam-ple Sess-i-on

1. Noun

No stops. No skips. A one-take review.

Following the release of her debut EP last year, Dangerous, Shay Lia has returned with her new project Solaris. The 5 track EP takes listeners through an array of sounds, experiences and emotions with Lia stating that this project was one of exploration and discovery. “I didn’t want to stay in the comfort zone I had created with my debut EP, Dangerous, which was made of R&B, soul and funk. With Solaris, I went for a blend of R&B, pop and afrobeat. I’m so grateful to the dope Haitian and Nigerian producers that worked with me on this — my songwriting process on this project was incredibly organic and freeing.”

1. Irrational

Lyrical content: 8.5

Production: 9.3

Delivery: 9

In my 23 years of life, I never imagined someone could sample Junior Senior’s track Move Your Feet‘ and elevate it into what Shay Lia has done on this song. From the onset, you can tell this EP doesn't carry the same soundscape as her debut, and she's stepping away from R&B into new and more experimental territory. She sings about the nonsensical behaviours developed while in the presence of a lover, and the lyrical content of the song fuse nicely with the tempo of the production. It was difficult to not start the song again, and it makes a ton of sense why the track amassed 100,000 streams on Spotify alone 24 hours after the EP's release. A strong opening track - despite lyrical repetition, due to fact the production shifts frequently, it creates a balance that doesn't make the song feel simple.

Highlights: Production and sample.

Low lights: Nothing if I am honest.

Overall score: 9.3

2. Mais Oui

Lyrical content: 8

Production: 8

Delivery: 8

Shay Lia's music is often quite uptempo and free flowing. This second track to her EP deviates from that, with a more sultry and darker sonic, again a clear sign this is not an EP where we should hold expectations to hear what we are used too from Lia. She slows it down, raps (more of a Yoncé vibe than Thee Stallion) and even sprinkles a bit more French than usual into the song, which is expected from the title. A stark contrast from the track it proceeded but somehow it doesn't feel like it came unnaturally to Lia to create such a track. Her voice, and the slight husk she has adds an extra je ne sais quoi type quality that rounds it off nicely.

Highlights: Hearing her sing in her native tongue, and the slow tempo.

Low lights: Could have had one more verse or bridge.

Overall score: 8

3. High Up

Lyrical content: 8

Production: 7

Delivery: 8

This track felt a lot like it could sit in the realm of Afro pop. The production is quite consistent and monotonous, and it felt quite lazy, at times boring. It is redeemed slightly, however, by Shay Lia's pen, since she delivers a lot quite well, the simplicity of the beat seems to work. There's a lot of reference to the beach in this song, and it does make the it feel warm and breezy at specific points too. Knowing what Shay Lia can do however, this is a slow mid point track in the EP.

Highlights: The lyrical content.

Low lights: Less generic sounding production.

Overall score: 7.5

4. All Up To You

Lyrical content: 9

Production: 8

Delivery: 8

If Shay Lia is going to do anything, she is going to make the feel good song of the year, from lyrical content to production. The penultimate track is the first single of the EP, released during the early days of lockdown and it's a song of encouragement from Lia to her listeners, a push to let people know that the path they wish to take in this life is all up to them and to ignore the background noise that may stop them. Another track that draws into the Afro pop sound, but in a manner thats more exciting than 'High Up', there is more variation in tempo and additional vocals. Shay Lia's intention with this song was to create something positive that people could just dance too, and she didn't fail to deliver that.

Highlights: Songs tempo and lyrics.

Low lights: Shay Lia could have done more with her own vocals.

Overall score: 8

5. Love Me, Love Me Not

Lyrical content: 8.5

Production: 8.5

Delivery: 8.5

The closing song to the short 15 minute EP takes Shay Lia back intro a strong point that she slightly faltered with halfway through the project. Warm and soulful, she debates with herself over a love that may or may not be unrequited. Although tender and vulnerable the song isn't sad and instead presents merely as a human experience that all have gone through at one point. It's a smooth transition into the end, and although the song doesn't present much closure in its content, its a pleasant close to the EP.

Highlights: Shay Lias voice and delivery .

Low lights: Shay Lia could have done more with her own vocals.

Overall score: 8

All in all, as an EP that had a purpose of being a place of transcending her usual sound and experimenting a lot more, Shay Lia has done really well. You can hear the elevation, the work she's put in too refining her sound and pen game. Although there was a slight falter in the middle of the project, there were a lot more highlights throughout the EP, and it started and ended incredibly well.

Overall score: 8.7

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