Back in 2013 the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom shed light on the often overlooked lives of backup singers. And since there’s strength in numbers when hitting harmonies alongside a fellow vocalist or two, it can still be easy for some to discount individual talent. So while there’ll always be perks to performing in a chorus, huge kudos to those who take their rightful place in the center stage spotlight.
Folks like native South Austinite (and T Bird and the Breaks original member) Sasha Ortiz, who spent the decade between 20 Feet and now in New York supporting soul royalty like Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, and Lee Fields, not to mention The Kills, Carla Morrison and more. These days Ortiz calls L.A. her home, and it’s in that city of angels that Sasha’s finally ascended from must-have backup to main attraction.
Last Friday Sasha Ortiz unleashed her top-tier first solo installation Superblue, a four-track, dance-driven foray into cutting-edge R&B-soul. Superblue‘s sensual and exotic sound was realized with the help of rising producer-multi-instrumentalist Reef Boii and J Dilla/Blood Orange mastering engineer Dave Cooley, who together turned the album into an outstanding introduction for this not-so-newcomer. At just under seventeen minutes, there’s no real good reason to pass up Superblue, at least if you’ve been tracking the fascinating evolution of soul-R&B in the digital age. So start it off right with the EP opener “On Your Side”, whose UK-inspired liquid bass line, floating synth chords, and uncomplicated drum patterns pad a bed of forget-me-nots for Sasha Ortiz’s dynamic falsetto, all of which send this future superstar straight into the hyper-periwinkle stratosphere.
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