Brand new release, in my company, is the sophomore EP by emerging artist Zahra and, for someone whose first release was only last year, it’s extremely impressive. It sounds like an EP of an artist who’s been releasing music for a few years, in fact. It’s a polished, high-quality, passionate piece of art.
The first song, naturally, starts with some light piano with a subtle hollow sound to it, with some emotional ‘oh’s being sung over the top. This opening track is a soft one, sung tentatively as she expresses her feelings of being alone, with the focal line of the chorus being ‘I was all on my own’. However, what’s different about this EP is that being alone isn’t expressed negatively or in a sad way at all. This whole EP is Zahra’s way of explaining that she used her alone time to grow into her authentic, true self.
Zahra says: “This EP is about spending time and healing in my own company. Being alone with myself has become my medicine. It has been the best way for me to grow into a more authentic version of myself and as I grow up, I realize being truly authentic to myself is the only way I want to move through life. If my decisions aren’t coming from my authentic self, I’ll only move towards places that make me unhappy and unfulfilled”.
The third track of this 5-song body of work is called i like my company, and it starts with a line of social commentary, ‘I’m in a room where people only care if they’re being liked and I cannot take this all night’. This really emphasises how Zahra’s perspective is different from those around her, as she doesn’t feel the same need to be liked by others. This is portrayed further with the line ‘there’s a huge difference between feeling lonely and alone’. She then goes on to point out that you can still feel alone when you’re around other people. The aim here is to encourage people to realise that they can enjoy their own company. At different parts of this song, the piano receives some backup by a drum beat that takes the track up a notch. This is an effective technique by Zahra; she uses instrumentation differently throughout the song to alter the mood as and when she wishes. Sometimes, it’s just piano and vocals, other times the piano is joined by the haunting sound of some high-pitched string arrangement. Again, when the drumbeat features, the mood changes again and feels less emotional for a minute and more upbeat.
The focal instrument of this EP is, however, definitely still the piano, which is played so beautifully in every song. The piano in Sanctuary starts very tentatively, perfectly matching the song’s title. But when the vocals kick in, we get a little surprise; she starts playing the piano much quicker than we’ve heard in previous songs, in a staccato style. The harmonies in this song provide a whimsical wonderland vibe, taking your imagination to a quiet woodland in the morning as the sun comes up. Zahra is undeniably a very talented vocalist as she can have various effects using her voice in creative ways.
The final song of this EP is called a part of me, which is a short (under 2 minutes) track that stands as somewhat of a summary; an affirmation-type of track that sums up what Zahra has learned on the personal journey that the EP is all about. Lines such as ‘I’m not my anxiety’ and ‘I’m not these dark feelings… none of that is a part of me’ show us that Zahra has managed to grow and learn from her experiences of being alone.
Listen to this honest, introspective EP here: https://open.spotify.com/album/4wMfcGb83joscVT7zSIoMh?si=t6iZRlupQEaBcl4j7gatEQ