Bold pop records of unwavering consistency, depth, finish, and pleasure do not suddenly drop out of the sky, and that is the case with We Are Born, the fifth proper album from the long-formidable Australia-born singer and songwriter Sia. These dazzling fourteen songs, produced by noted Los Angeles producer Greg Kurstin, are full of finessed immediacy and stark power and kinetic rhythmic motion. Yet they sacrifice none of the raw emotionality that distinguished Sia's often more inward-leaning and languorous work, both with the cinematic U.K. duo Zero 7 and on her own previous recordings. The new songs comprise a kind of collection Sia has longed to unveil for years.
"We Are Born is the album I've been wanting to make since Colour the Small One," explains Sia, referring to her 2004 album. "But I wasn't allowed to." She is talking about her former record company's wholesale refusal a while back to accept music from her that left the downtempo universe then at its height of fashionability, and she mentions her earlier albums. "I'm really impressionable about music," she begins. "When I was hanging out with hip-hoppers I made Healing Is Difficult in 2000. When I was hanging out with Zero 7, I made Colour the Small One. In 2008 I made Some People Have Real Problems — because," Sia sniffs, " apparently I was a downtempo artist exclusively. We Are Born is the album I've made when I've been hanging out with myself." That is fascinating company.
From acid-jazz ecstasies to downbeat atmospherics to international pop; from Kate-Moss-on-the-guest-list! to Hollywood and HBO soundtrack hits to Owen in Amsterdam, Sia is a woman of phases -- all of them, as she explains them at the same time artistic as hell and satisfyingly down to earth. Certainly their vibrant combination got her to the big bold distillation of the Sia everything that is We Are Born. She laughs for about the millionth time in an hour. "They were real," Sia says of her earlier recordings. "They did happen. They were important to me. They represent real times that I went through. I just try to move out of the way and let whatever happens happen as wondrously as possible. I control nothing."