Sasami Ashworth was given a Herculean task: deliver an album that meets the hype surrounding her. Following her SoundCloud release of a single titled “Callous,” she was catapulted into the spotlight. The song was awarded “Best New Track” by Pitchfork, and soon after she announced her first solo album, the eponymous SASAMI. But how does the artist’s solo debut hold up?
The ten-track album opens with “I Was a Window,” a hypnotic song that sets the tone of the album, both sonically and thematically. Ashworth grapples with the intricacies of love and the gradual breakdown of a relationship. More specifically, she focuses on a love that ends through no fault of either person. As expressed most poignantly in “Not The Time,” Ashworth’s gentle, yet harrowing voice sings confessional lyrics such as “It's not the time or place for us/But you said that you would save some space for us.” It’s the type of ending that can be considered worse than more volatile breakups: the love is still as strong, but outside forces prevent the couple from being together.
Ashworth ponders other characteristics that are typical of a relationship on the verge of breaking, such as jealousy (in the aptly named track, “Jealousy”) and a general sense of unfulfillment. The album ends with the song “Turned Out I Was Everyone,” a lyrically simple track that Ashworth uses to contemplate the universal experience of feeling alone in the world. Overall, the project comes together in a thematically unified package, giving it a sense of cohesion but sometimes bordering on sounding repetitive.
SASAMI uses a mix of synths, drums and harsh guitar noises that embodies the classic hallmarks of a shoegaze album. The album is at its best when Ashworth is able to meld her voice with the background music in a way where neither overpower each other, like in the track “Pacify My Heart.” Most striking in the album is how Ashworth contrasts her sorrowful voice and pained lyrics with strident guitar and an almost-whimsical sounding synth. Ashworth is able to express an unyielding sense of pain in a way that doesn’t sound contrived or uninspired, lending the whole album a depth that deserves multiple listens.
SASAMI exceeds expectations and is a bold introduction to the artist’s solo career. While nothing is groundbreaking, the album is well-executed and is particularly resonant with listeners going through heartbreak. It’s a promising start, and it will be exciting to watch as Ashworth continues to grow as an artist.
“Pacify My Heart”
“I Was A Window”