Flush as Belfast is with singer-songwriter types, occasionally comes an artist who manages to raise their head from the maddening crowd. Sonja Sleator, from both sound and work ethic, falls into the latter category. With a sound that borders country, pop, folk and Americana, Sleator has established a reputation for writing vulnerable, believable ballads. ‘Protection’, her third release of 2019, captures the full-bodied sound of her live performances without sacrificing on any of her influences.
The graceful Americana opening is quickly cut by the earthly vocals of Sleator, who’s penchant for humanising her troubles via song is at full strength throughout this number. Indeed, the lyrical and vocal quality of ‘Protection’ is what shines through – the backing track during the hook emphasis the tracks drama, and is the high point for the song – and act as the driving force behind its quiet enmity. The restrained, warm creek of the composition reflects the aching honesty of its lyrical content. “Inside I am black” stands out in the second verse, a stark and raw declaration.
Continuing along her recent string of releases, ‘Protection’ combines the best of her previous works and amalgamates them into one form. Strident, irreverent and tender, the latest from Sleator sees her at her best.