Once known for her co-writes and featured vocals on some of pop music’s biggest songs, Sasha Sloan’s debut album ‘Only Child’ sees the singer claiming her own stage. At just ten songs long, the collection is fit for easy listening as Sloan ditches her former pop-leaning sound, choosing instead to head in a more indie and acoustic route.
Most recent single ‘Hypochondriac’ best showcases this. The breezy song is backed by gentle folk guitar strums as Sloan sings about her mental health struggles and gratitude for boyfriend King Henry, who also produces the album. Subsequent track ‘Is It Just Me?’ sees the singer wax lyrical about the current state of the world over an instrumental similarly backed by guitars.
And perhaps most central to Sloan’s artistry is her ability to package difficult topics into hard-hitting vignettes. Besides mental health on ‘Hypochondriac’ and global affairs on ‘Is It Just Me?’, we also see this in the sombre ‘House With No Mirrors’—a rumination of body image and self-acceptance.
Delving into the album’s namesake, Sloan details the single child experience with the titular track, in which she fantasises about having a little company: “If I had a sister, I might be with her / Out at a bar, talking ’bout a broken heart / If she was married, it’d make me happy / I’d be by her side, she’d make a beautiful bride”.
The mentions of characters and descriptions of physical features and spaces make a comparison to fellow acoustic/pop predecessor Taylor Swift almost inevitable. Swift’s earlier work (and most recent album, folklore) heavily capitalised on such devices to allow listeners to turn songs into scenes. Elsewhere on ‘Only Child’, the track ‘Someone You Hate’ plays like a direct reference to the Swift songs of old, and Sloan’s voice even sounds eerily similar to Swift’s.
Being on an album with pointedly subdued production, the more upbeat ‘Lie’ immediately stands out. The song details a fractured relationship held together by feigned affection: “I want you to lie, lie right to my face / Want you to put your hands on my waist / Can we just dance ’til the skies are white? / ‘Cause I really can’t get my heart broken tonight”.
Finally, on album closer ‘High School Me’, Sloan revisits her ignorant days of youth with some nostalgia and wisdom: “If high school me could see me now / I bet high school me would be so proud”. With over 10 million monthly listeners on Spotify among other successes, we’d say high school Sasha should be so very proud indeed.
Having released three EPs prior, ‘Only Child’ feels like a rightful culmination of Sloan’s music journey thus far, ever since the days of her first-ever release ‘Ready Yet’ all the way back in 2017. Her knack for storytelling gives each song a story of its own, and as it is, ‘Only Child’ happens to be full of stories that we’d gladly revisit, well after the epilogue.