The multi-talented singer, songwriter and producer Safiyyah releases enchanting new EP ‘Motions.'
My first introduction to Safiyyah’s wonderful voice came back in 2020 through her collaborations with London Rapper Finn Foxell. An EP and several singles later, and we are now being blessed with another project. Following on from 2023 singles ‘Saturdaze’ and ‘Lisbon’, we have 2 fresh tracks on the 4-track EP ‘Motions’. The full tracklist comprises of ‘Der Sommer’, ‘Lisbon’, ‘Saturdaze’ and ‘No Pressure’.
Within this project, the captivating lyrics and luscious vocals of Safiyyah are spread elegantly across R&B, Neo-Soul and Contemporary Jazz. A rich Moroccan and Portuguese heritage shines through this creation. This is delightfully blended with clear influence from the city of London. Safiyyah’s Ladbroke Grove roots and their influence will be discussed further. For now, let’s begin at the beginning with one of the previously unheard tracks, ‘Der Sommer’.
‘Der Sommer’, translating from German to ‘the summer’, begins with a gentle but flourishing guitar. Safiyyah is introduced on the project with a catchy vocal delivery that instantly finds a groove amongst the instruments. The nostalgia is plentiful in this song, with it acting as a fantastic introductory number to the EP. Lyrics detail ‘going away’ in repetition, interchanging between whether it is ‘I’, or ‘you’, that keeps ‘going away’. The meaning for this is open to interpretation. Personally, it strikes as a description for two people who care for each other, but keep ‘going away’ in the sense of them being physically apart, or mentally occupied by other ambitions. Whether this was Safiyyah’s meaning when writing the lyrics is unclear. However, one of the many positive attributes of her music is the space given for the listener to come to their own conclusions.
After this delightful beginning, we are brought into ‘Lisbon’, one of the singles released in the build-up to the project. Here the project enters into full motion, so to speak, with Lisbon swaying effortlessly through sultry R&B melodies. ‘I am in a crisis’, begins Safiyyah. A tale of love and reflection, the line ‘We can start up a new life, in Lisbon drinking wine to realign’ really stands out. The theme of escapism is continued from ‘Der Sommer’. The characters were depicted as people who kept ‘going away’, and now it seems Safiyyah is hoping for them to go away together, with Lisbon serving as an idyllic destination. The city seemingly inspires the song. As Safiyyah has a Portuguese heritage, this track feels every bit as personal as it is easy for the listeners to connect with. A reflective element is very apparent in this track.
Speaking on the project, Safiyyah expressed, ‘the inconsistency of emotions can leave you wallowing in the past’. In this sense, this work feels cathartic, as if it was created to process. Whilst Safiyyah processes her emotions on these songs, she provides an honest exploration of feelings that are highly relatable for many listeners.
Our next stop is at ‘Saturdaze’. This offering continues along a similar path sonically, with mellow drums weaving between tasteful keys and a vibrant bassline. Safiyyah begins by acknowledging ‘I know I’m busy all the time, I’ve been working nine to five, I might give you slow replies, but you’re still on my mind’. Immediately this track provides us with a sentiment many can relate to. The themes of the first two songs are continued, with the understanding of life getting in the way of relationships. The chorus highlights Safiyyah grappling with the love she has for someone, who is seemingly ‘miles away’. There is a spectacular cohesion to the work on this project. These continued reflections really strike home, with the clear talent of the young artist shining through her divine vocal delivery and production choices. The short but sweet song stands out as a highlight of the EP; a real crescendo moment. A wonderful emotional depth is provided to the listener in such a concise format, leaving a lasting impression of Safiyyah’s ability.
We are then shown a different side to the artist that we have undertaken this musical reflection with, on the final track, ‘No Pressure’. Sonically, this track stands alone on this project, which is in no way accidental. Safiyyah explains ‘No Pressure might not seem to fit in, but that’s exactly the point’. The complexity of this project is explained by Safiyyah saying, ‘Motions summarises love, falling in love, losing it, and getting over it’. In ‘No Pressure’, we have a new attitude, and a new aura. This is very much the ‘getting over it’.
Harking back to the earlier point of the West London influence, the final track contains a new style of instrumentation. The hi-hats offer an almost drill-sounding bounce, with an increased tempo matching the shift in attitude excellently. ‘No Pressure’ doesn’t give the impression of someone who is completely over the love they have found and since lost. But it is someone realising their worth, and what they need to do to heal. It is almost as if we have a full circle moment from Safiyyah. It seems as though she started the EP as she was experiencing the feelings she expresses on ‘No Pressure’. It is then that she went back and began reflecting, starting with the nostalgia of ‘Der Sommer’. Continuing with the intense feelings of ‘Lisbon’ and ‘Saturdaze’, until she was all the way back in the present moment. The moment where this attitude, and understanding of who she was, returned to her.
I could understand an accusation that I was being too thorough in my reflections on this project, but let it serve as evidence of the exquisite ability of Safiyyah to cultivate self-reflection. In content matter and delivery, production choices and tone, Safiyyah has shown an immense amount of talent on ‘Motions’. Excitingly, she has also provided us with an indication of her enormous potential. For Safiyyah, the cliché of ‘one to watch’ seems remarkably apt.