Following the hype surrounding the beautifully conceptual single The Art of Letting Go, and our subsequent interview with artist and songwriter Steph Saraj, the long-awaited EP is finally here. Anxious Heart brings together five uniquely expressive recordings that each work hard to build a finished journey that’s as meaningful as it is enjoyable.
Things start off on a definite high, Forever presents a striking electronic ambiance and a hard-hitting rap verse that contrasts cleverly with a smooth and melodic hook section. While certain moments feel openly rooted in or inspired by nineties pop, certain others feel much more alternative and freely creative; that balance and freedom works well.
This is the Steph Saraj approach, by all accounts – the inability to predict what will come through is commonplace for the fans. Expect the unexpected, but with that be pleasantly entertained by what is some brilliantly immersive melodic development and a totally refreshing instrumental set-up. A great way to begin the project.
Where Have You Gone follows on and the crisp soundscape fused with these soulful and intimate vocals really begins to grab you. Moving stylishly from melody to rap, creating dynamic and utilizing every second and every aspect of the music as a further means of expressing the underlying sentiments, the track makes for a quickly likable, ambient and awakening listening experience.
The unmistakable fusion of heartache and overcoming that is The Art of Letting Go makes a rightful appearance on the project and helps showcase the softer side of Saraj’ creative work. This soulful alternative pop classic is incredibly poignant and empowering in the way it deals with such a remarkably personal subject matter. Still there’s energy even to moments like this, the track is instrumentally vibrant and works hard to present a sense of overcoming and possibility.
Cherry Chapstick sees a classic RnB groove pour through, with a crisp and satisfying flicker of jazz, a heavy marching beat, and a heartfelt, intimate performance with a superb melody-line. Again, the vocals shine brightly here – multiple layers of voice help strengthen certain moments in an all-immersive way. There’s nostalgia to the sound, but from a songwriting perspective the journey is perfectly fresh. The changes throughout keep things structurally interesting – the higher melodic moments contrasting with the lower ones. In every case the performance more than meets the bar. This track’s hook offers perhaps the most notable ear-worm of the entire EP – you walk away with that line running through your mind.
What U Want from Me switches gear again, presenting a quickly optimistic soundscape that fuses elements of jazz – a hugely uplifting sax sound – with some classic electronica and a rhythmically complex beat. The creativity that rains down throughout this EP is genuinely quite incomparable right now. At the same time, the songwriting is wonderfully original, and on this track in particular Saraj’ leading voice sounds sublime – strong and expressive, effortlessly gritty or smooth depending on what the moment requires. A definite highlight, musically satisfying, unpredictable, deeply personal and honest – a joy to listen through, and a strong testament as to what a live show would likely sound like.
The perfect way to finish, musically embracing the listener and underlining one last time the freely meandering nature of Steph Saraj’ performance and writing styles in unison. Mighty production and passionate, powerful performances stand tall at every step.
Download the EP via iTunes or stream it on Spotify. Check out our in depth interview with Steph Saraj to find out more about the music. Find & follow Steph Saraj on Twitter & Instagram or visit their Website.