Saya Gray

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19 Masters (2022), 7/10 Links:

Toronto-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Saya Gray, a Japanese-Canadian, created a personal style that fuses psychedelia, pop, soul, folk, classical and jazz on on 19 Masters (2022), which consists of 19 songs but mostly very brief ones. Gray indulges in nonlinear structures and ever shifting arrangements to the point that songs are impossible to categorize. Every single minute is elaborate in unintuitive ways. Every song is a shifting target. There is already plenty of creativity in brief surreal fragments like Cervical Cedric and 9/19. Classical elements (classical guitar, harp) embellish Found a Floorboard Under the Soil while soul-jazz rhythm and call-and-response vocal harmonies propel If There’s No Seat in the Sky. Leeches on My Thesis might be her attempt at freak-folk, but it's hard to define the eccentric tip-toeing lullaby Saving Grace, or the eerie chant S.H.T (Silent Hot Tears / Send Hot Tempura) (the only song with traces of rap music), and one can only admire the level of sophistication in the bossanova-ish Empathy 4 Bethany. The simplest songs, that in the hands of other musicians would simply be bedroom-pop dirges, become laboratories of vocal effects, notably Pap Test where her voice gets overdubbed with itself and other voices. The guitar is the second voice of the album, and no less disorienting than the vocals.

The seven-song EP Qwerty (2023) was a confused blend of glitchy pop, breakbeat hip-hop, collage and chamber music. It feels like a sketchbook of unfinished ideas.

(Copyright © 2023 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )