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If this is their Silver, Say She She’s gold must be out of this world


Release date: 29 September 2023
Say She She Silver cover
26 September 2023, 09:00 Written by Janne Oinonen

The New York-based harmony trio Say She She have made an apt choice for their name.

Firstly, there’s the echo of original disco deities Chic, whose effortlessly funky, sleek ghost hangs over Silver like a Batlight you can’t and shouldn’t switch off, even when the album ventures from outright disco grooves (“C’est si Bon”) towards pillowy soul, slow-burn incantations and psychedelic space-disco (Discodelia? Discodelic?).

Secondly, Silver is infused with a righteous but ultimately positive political anger against forces of regression that are trying to turn back the clock to the dark ages when people (especially women) were supposed to know their place: "Don’t mind your manners / Throw a spanner in the works!", as the trio chant during the high-octane funk of “Questions”, one of the album’s many highpoints. It’s hard to think of a more entertaining yet still determined musical stand against gender-based condescension and barriers in the workplace than the positively levitating stop/start strut of “Entry Level”.

Silver is hardly a direct disco homage or a plain political broadside, however: backed by members of Los Angeles cult funkateers Orgone, the trio’s second album is above all a celebratory demonstration of real musical imagination and scope, echoing such past notables as Liquid Liquid, ESG and Tom Tom Club in how oft-visited strands of rhythm-forward music – rooted in funk, soul and disco – are successfully moulded in the band’s own, unique image.

According to a recent interview, the band’s story started when one of the three singers heard another future member sing through the floorboards, and just had to investigate further. Listening to telepathically tight vocal blends and by turns soaring and soft harmonies of Piya Malik, Sabrina Mileno Cunningham and Nya Gazelle Brown, it’s not hard to buy into that origin myth. The music and the songwriting are often sublime (check out the cosmic glide of “Reeling” or the impassioned lament of “Echo In The Chamber”, for example), but the seamlessly unified, powerfully expressive voices of three vocalists really separate Silver from the competition.

Complaints about having too much of a good thing can seem petty, but it’s fair to say that some of the stylistic directions on Silver work better than others: there is an absolutely unbeatable standard-length album hiding inside this 70-minute colossus. That said, the album’s sprawl also allows the stunning space-funk title track to spread its wings for full lift-off unhurriedly over 9 minutes until total resistance-shattering hypnosis has been achieved. If this is their Silver, Say She She’s gold must be out of this world.

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