In 2017 I went through a stage of trying to listen to every single new artist that appeared on the New Music tab on the NME website. From there I found many different and exciting musicians. Tom Misch, Courts, Nilufer Yanya and Hana Vu are all people I’ve found through NME (I would recommend the site to anyone trying to find new music). But the artist that left the biggest impression on me was a 22 girl from Australia. The song was simply called Jungle and from the moment I heard that song I knew I had to keep an eye on anything and everything that this woman did. Fast forward a year later and I was welcomed with her debut album Flow State.
I should probably try to explain what kind of music Sultana makes so as to give some context for what her music sounds like but that is easier said than done. The best description I’ve heard is Psychedelic Regea-Rock. Very simple. Its this indescribable quality of Sultana’s music though that makes her so intriguing to listen to. Her vocals almost blend into the music as she sings. And whilst some people may find her wailing, almost siren-like delivery annoying I can’t help but be transfixed by it. Songs like Pink Moon and Harvest Love showcase her outstanding range perfectly. From quiet, intimate moments to loud and defiant outbursts, her voice can handle it all. Her range also isn’t trapped in the bracket of only being able to handle ballads either, there are plenty of moments on this album that show how much fun she can have whilst perform. Mystik and Cigarettes are perfect examples of this. The lyrics she uses are also incredibly ethereal and almost sound like a stream of consciousness when she sings them, which again adds to the feeling of her becoming lost in the sound of the music.
However, whilst her voice is very good, it is Sultana’s instrumentation that really elevates her as one of the most talented young artists working today. There are over 18 instruments used on this project, all played by Sultana herself. From guitars, drum pads and bass guitars to piano, violins and saxophones, she plays it all. This sounds impressive as it but my words can’t do her justice. Listen to the ending of Cigarettes or Murder to the Mind yourself to truly understand what I’m talking about. Sultana also clearly understands how great she is, especially with the guitar, as many songs on Flow State feature purely instrumental parts (or even just fully instrumental at times). The 9 ½ minutes long epic that is the albums second to last track Blackbird is probably the best example of her mastery of guitars in all styles.
The Flow State of Mind, in reality, is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus and enjoyment in the process of the activity. This state of mind is what inspired Sultana to write the album and it should be obvious as to why. You really get the sense that whilst writing and recording every song on this album that she was fully immersed in the music, completely lost to the sound of her guitar. Watch any footage of her performing live and you’ll see for yourself that this is definitely true. Seeing as this is her first album, I could not ask for any more and I am incredibly excited to see where she takes her career after this.