When the term ‘singer-songwriter’ is applied to an artist, the general image it produces is someone with an acoustic guitar permanently attached to them, as they transpose our immediate world into seemingly clever lyrics. Sivu then is one who bucks that trend, he is someone more aligned to the literal meaning of that title, but one who seems to be of a growing crowd of performers, songwriters and singers that don’t allow themselves to be pinned to the narrow definition so often attached to such a wide term.
Something On High is the debut release from this native of Cambridge, first made available for public consumption in October of last year, and it is very much to my liking – genuinely an accomplished body of work that includes songs you would be genuinely surprised to hear from someone on their first go. There’s a tangible maturity in the production of these songs, but they still retain their individuality and personality, there’s no compromise or sacrifice between the two.
To try and define the sound of Sivu is a bit of a challenge – on first listening, you might say the music fits snuggly into the “indie” category, but there are so many different facets to the songs that it’s simply not fair to just brand it one way. Nowhere is this embodied better than with the two songs Can’t Stop Now and Love Lives In This House: the former is a Villagers-esque number that is jaunty, upbeat and quirky, while the latter is heavy, weighed down with importance and sincerity. That’s not to say Can’t Stop Now is insincere, but Love Lives In This House has this quality of making you feel a part of the drama it sounds out.
Those who question the future of music in this country need not worry so much when you delve beneath the surface and find the likes of Sivu, there’s an alarmingly refined talent present on this record – I mean just listen to Miracle, and tell me that’s not a great song. Then it’s followed up by Sleep, a slow-paced song that builds up and buys into its own sense of significance before taking on an anthemic quality, rocking you back and forth in its sway.
Though I’ve not listened to it as many times as I would like, I cannot speak highly enough of this album; it evades definition, it surprises you, it stays original. The closing three tracks are just as different and uniquely enjoyable as any of their colleagues, once more showing the real diversity in Sivu’s songwriting and the distinctiveness of Sivu’s singing. Even at the album’s end, listening to Hidden Track, I’m taken aback at how consistently, thoroughly good these songs are. This one certainly deserves the title of closing song for any Sivu concert (in my humble opinion) because it has a rawness to it, augmented by the fact that only voice and oh-so-slightly-distorted guitar make up the body of the song.
For me, this is an album of significance in that it will forever be associated with its own new memory of discovery, something that is forever endearing in the eyes of any music fan – the feeling that you have found something no-one else knows about, something that immediately resonates with you as being nothing but deeply enjoyable.