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Belgian singer with a golden voice, Selah Sue is back with “Persona”, a very successful solar and groovy album

She was 21 when she took the world by storm with her hit Raggamuffin and a first album co-produced by Patrice, in 2011. Eleven years later, and after a detour via Reason (2015) in which she approached more electronic shores, Selah Sue is back with personas, a solar and abundant third album, particularly varied. The Belgian singer explores this time without distinction all the styles she likes: hip-hop, jazz, soul, electro, pop and R&B.

This musical eclecticism fits particularly well into the broader concept of this album, of which she wrote each song from the point of view of one of the different aspects of her personality: the mother, the lover, the hedonist, the anxious , the fighter… But with the cat-eyed 30-something, no matter the facet explored and no matter the style, it’s her singular voice, a soulful voice with a deliciously cracked grain, which each time takes the ascendancy and wins the piece.

Whether she works gently or powerfully, plays on her vocal cracks of a wounded siren, on a hushed sensuality or even on a more playful register, whether she recalls her model Erykah Badu or takes on almost Princely accents (Prince who had spotted and of which she had assured a few first parts, had told him one day that she “breathed music“), the album, especially the first half, is full of potential hits and haunting details. Even the tracks most obviously cut for success benefit from Selah Sue’s sincerity and musical finds that make them captivating.

In the past, the singer and musician has always invited high-flow rappers such as the French Nekfeu and the American Childish Gambino to her records. On personasshe invites three different rappers to share the microphone with her: the Belgian Damso, who needs no introduction, on the latest single Wanted You To Knowas well as the Canadian Tobi on Hurray and the American Mick Jenkins on Celebrate. So many successful marriages, which flow naturally.

But she also dares to rap for the first time, on the opening title Kingdomwith an impressive flow of mastery, that one would think more readily escaped from the Jamaican district of Brixton in London than from a Fleming living near Brussels.

His Belgian compatriot Stromae has made an impression in recent weeks by recounting his suicidal thoughts on the single Hell. Selah Sue, who already had three years of psychology studies behind her before opting for the song, already spoke on her first album in 2011 of the pangs of depression which has affected her since adolescence.

On personas, she still tackles the question regularly, on rhythms that nevertheless ward off all sadness. She mentions in particular the anti-depressants she took daily until recently before realizing that if they had saved her from nightmare and burnout, they had also cut her off from her personality. “I lost all my emotions (…) I wish I could feel something“, she sings on Pills (which is not a song about ecstasy, she clarifies). In Hurray she recounts her permanent inner struggle between two opposite aspects of her psyche, while it is a question in Try To Make friends to make peace with his bouts of anxiety and his different personalities.

This third studio album, the young mother of two little boys (2 and 4 years old) developed it in part during confinement, a harmonious period spent as much cocooning as creating. Especially since his companion and father of his children, Joachim Saerens, plays the keyboards on this disc and contributed strongly to it as co-composer with Californian Matt Parad.

Selah Sue’s journey is one of an endless battle against the abyss of melancholy but also a slow journey towards self-acceptance. She has always told herself in songs. On her first album she probed the pain, the second opened with love songs. The new, while deploying the different masks of his “persona”, demonstrates a certain serenity, an appeasement. Selah Sue is doing better and her album reflects this: it is quite simply the most successful to date.

The Scrapbook personas by Selah Sue (Because Music) was released on March 25
Selah Sue is on tour and will be in many festivals this summer: April 10 in Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande, April 27 in Brussels, June 11 in Amiens (all dates here)

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