Gaeya (Sweden) – Awakening (debut EP)
Gaeya (Sandra Zackrisson) is a Swedish ‘World Beat’ artist who turned up here with two singles last year. I included one of them in my personal long list selection for Single of the Year and tipped her as an ‘Artist to watch out for’ in 2021. Judging from this debut EP, ‘Awakening’, I made the right call.
One observation I’ll make straight away is that things are now much clearer. Having been compared (not by me I hasten to add) to an ‘early Björk’, she really falls somewhere between Aurora and Karen Carpenter! Is that possible? It sure is.
While ‘Contact’ is a gentle piece of thoughtful pop and reminiscent in some ways of the Carpenters’ ‘Calling occupants of interplanetary craft’ and ‘Truth’ is a New Age symphony, the third track throws a completely different Gaeya into the melting pot. ‘Aureola’ is a bit of a rocker, interspersed with an almost operatic bridge.
The Karen Carpenter persona is most evident on ‘Micro Orbits’, a slowed down ballad in which she adopts a slightly Americanised vocal while ‘Tide for the Change’ reverts to the same verse format as ‘Contact’ but then morphs into a lovely extended soprano chorus with another facet of her vocal range thrown in for good measure.
Gaeya has a great voice, writes strong melodies, selects excellent instrumentation that is just right for her songs – both electronic and traditional - and the arrangement is perfect. She sings mainly of cosmological and ecological matters but it doesn’t matter if you aren’t really into that sort of stuff as the music and her voice carry the songs on their own. Even though she isn’t new to the music scene it’s hard to believe this is a debut EP under this moniker.
If I have a criticism it is that she doesn’t let herself go when she can. Some of these songs could be delivered perhaps slightly more emotionally than she does but she holds herself in check. But it isn’t something I’ll lose any sleep over.
Gaeya is just waiting to be discovered by some or other clued-up jock at “On the BBC Sounds app, on your smart speaker, and on 88–91 FM” Radio 2. The problem is, the speed old Auntie moves at, ‘contact’ will probably not be made with her until sometime in the next decade.
When she starts performing live, catch her when you can while she’s still in small venues where I’m sure she’ll be able to create the intimacy that these songs deserve.
Nordic Music Review 8/10. Full EP on Spotify: