Sia

Some People Have Real Problems

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Some People Have Real Problems is Sia's first release on the Starbucks-affiliated Hear Music label, following acts like Paul McCartney and Joni Mitchell. Given the burst of attention Sia got when her song "Breathe Me" was used to excellent effect in the final scenes of the series finale of the HBO show Six Feet Under, which brought the Australian singer/songwriter to a much wider audience than was familiar with her earlier work with Zero 7 and Massive Attack, it makes perfect sense. With her old-school soul vocal style, with just a hint of roughness under her delicate high-register tones, set against the contemporary sophistication of her music, Sia is exactly the sort of artist a middle-aged Starbucks devotee who wants to remain at least tangentially hip would flock to: if Amy Winehouse did yoga instead of Jack Daniels, she'd sound a lot like Sia. But fans of Sia's earlier releases may well be in for a shock: Some People Have Real Problems sounds like a concerted grab for the Mum Rock demographic, those looking for something to listen to while they're waiting for Corinne Bailey Rae and Regina Spektor to release new albums. Considerably more pop-oriented and uptempo than the chilly electronica that made her name, songs like "Buttons" and "Academia" (one of two songs featuring Beck on harmony vocals; the other, "Death by Chocolate," also features Jason Lee and Giovanni Ribisi) also seem designed to attract the audience that fell for Feist's "1234." It would be easy to condemn Sia for such a naked brass ring grab except for one somewhat surprising point: the change actually suits her. The newly varied arrangements, moods, and textures of this album, from the mournful piano-led cover of the Kinks' "I Go to Sleep" through the horn-based R&B swing of "Electric Bird" to the sarcastic bounce of "The Girl You Lost to Cocaine," make Some People Have Real Problems Sia's most engrossing and satisfying album yet.

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