Album Review: Sevdaliza’s ISON

by Ayanna Jacobs-El

Iranian-Dutch singer-songwriter Sevdaliza is currently charting a path all her own. In late April, she released her first full-length studio album ISON. The album is named after the sun-grazing comet ISON and encompasses a wide variety of genres such as trip-hop, downtempo-electronic, and Alternative R&B. ISON explores the ideas of modern-day womanhood, motherhood, societal expectations, and power. Propelled by Sevdaliza’s deeply emotional, soulful, and rich voice ISON takes the listener on a musical journey through her creative mind.

The album is unusual because almost all of the songs are very slow moving and brooding. This could be detrimental to some artists, but Sevdaliza manages to make each song interesting and individual by experimenting with instrumentation, electronic elements, and vocal tonality. Songs like “Grace” blends string orchestra with a modern industrial beat. I like how Sevdaliva’s voice angelically floats and quavers over the hybrid electronic and orchestral beat. Another example of her experimentation with instrumentation is “Replaceable.” This track features a jazzy acoustic bass and live drum set intertwined with a whirly electronic piano. The sultry song describes the uncertainty of relationships and how even if you are in love with someone you can continue to wonder whether there is someone better for you.

Sevdaliza has always delivered stunning visuals to accompany her music by way of well-crafted music videos and unique album and single artwork. The album cover for ISON represents a sculpture of Sevdaliza as a mother to herself, to her past lives, and to the album’s 16 songs. An example of the captivating visuals that were crafted to accompany her music can be seen in her “Marilyn Monroe” music video. The video displays a cyborg version of Sevdaliza, which could be seen as a metaphor for how she has had to craft herself to fit into society’s standards for women.

Some of the songs on the album drift in an unexpected direction such as “Human.” Rather than singing, Sevdaliza presents the lyrics in a spoken manner. “Human” features a minimalist production style, which serves as the perfect underscore to the lyrics. The song reminds her critics, who expect her to be perfect, that she is a person with flaws like anyone else.

I like that Sevdaliza isn’t afraid to be candid about her thoughts and feelings. She also perfectly showcases her emotions through her many methods of vocal delivery. A perfect example of this can be heard in her airy and raspy vocals on “Hubris.” Her vocals help drive home the poignant lyrics of how she no longer loves her significant other.

Sevdaliza creates a dark, beautiful, and honest work of art with ISON. She isn’t concerned with reinventing herself in order to appease the superficiality and commercialism of today’s music industry. By being herself and releasing music that comes straight from her soul she has still been able to achieve a large fanbase and her songs have amassed millions of listens. I am looking forward to what will come next from the talented songstress.


About the Author

Ayanna Jacobs-El
Ayanna Jacobs-El is a composer, producer, songwriter, singer, alto and baritone saxophonist, and DJ dual majoring in Contemporary Writing and Production and Professional Music with a minor in Writing for TV and New Media. You can learn more about Ayanna and hear her music by visiting