Album Review: Sia – Reasonable Woman

[Atlantic; 2024]

Have you ever seen those videos on YouTube of someone replicating a musician’s style? E.g. “Frank Ocean x Tyler, The Creator type beat” or 2017’s video from Internet Jules “How To Write a Halsey Song In Less Than An Hour”. Oftentimes it’s spot on both in production and/or lyricism. Oftentimes it’s also a red flag on the artist when they no longer push past barriers the way they once did, becoming stagnant and a caricature of themselves.

2024 Sia does just that. After years of innovating and pushing boundaries of sound and the “normalities” of lyricism and topical writing, the formula she’s crafted over the last six years is now stuck. This stagnancy is on display on her 10th studio album Reasonable Woman.

All the extremely underdeveloped written tracks here make you question the singer’s once incredibly notable knack for the craft. “Oh, I had a heart as bright as the stars” she sings on “I Had A Heart”, While the track has an extra writing credit for Rosalia, not much of the Catalan-singer shows up on the page, while EDM-adjacent loud fanfaresque production by Jesse Shatkin deafens the song’s integrity. This same issue is seen all over the project on tracks like “Wanna Be Known” and “Immortal Queen”, which features Chaka Khan. Not all the tracks blast your ears apart at the start – if you’re lucky you’ll get to hear Sia wind up before the last 30 seconds of the track when she belts.

We also have Sia trying disco. I mean who doesn’t love a trend. With the help of Kylie Minogue, “Dance Alone” is… well, a Sia-written Kylie Minogue track. Distinctively formula-ed lyrically as a piece Sia could only write while its chorus shines through with Minogue’s typical ‘middle of the club and five drinks down’ dance ambience. “I just wanna dance alone / I ain’t ever going home / I just wanna dance alone,” the duo sing effervescently – you can’t stay mad at a probable gay pride party playlist add. The attempt comes four years too late as the resurgence of “Murder on the Dancefloor” by Sophie Ellis-Bextor has completely closed out the phenomenon – but it could be a deeptrack to bring up in four more years.

Sia continues other collaborations on the album, one with Labrinth and one with Paris Hilton – both with no notable prowess. “Incredible”, the Labrinth track, is a clear scrap from their collaborative album. It stays completely out of context on the project and doesn’t offer any support to an already drowning body of work. And if you want to hear Paris Hilton attempt to soft-sing (borderline moan) while shallowly examining the span of her career through song, “Fame Won’t Love You” is the track for you.

For the kids that bypass their screen time on TikTok, Sia made something special for you – “Champion”, with Tierra Whack, Kaliii, and Jimmy Joliff. As “Unstoppable” off of 2016 album This Is Acting still makes its rounds on the ‘for you’ page, there’s nothing better for the label than a part two. However, unlike the depth that “Unstoppable” had, “Champion” is a K-mart back-to-school commercial crowd pleaser; a track so fabricated the features play out as a remix instead of an original.

For those who visit Sia’s work for gut-wrenching ballads that make you contemplate every connection you have, there is one salvageable piece on here, “I Forgive You”. It’s a standard approach we hear in Sia’s discography and sounds straight out of the same playbook as 2015’s “1000 Forms Of Fear”. In fact, a rendition of the track was released in 2015 by Congolese singer GIMS released as “Je te pardonne,” with Sia as added for a remix. Sia’s small part now extended in a full length track for all to hear.

If we’re being realistic, Sia hasn’t released an actual album since 2016. 2018’s Everyday is Christmas was at first a great opportunity to showcase the ingenuity of Sia while displaying the artful innocence of the winter holiday. The album quickly dissipated after continuous resurgences on TikTok and radio. The ollaborative album with Labrinth and Diplo was great for summer techno dancing, while motion picture and its accompanying album Music shut down the Australian singer’s hopes and dreams, leading her to becoming more or less cancelled.

2016’s This Is Acting took all of Sia’s reject songs for other artists such as Rihanna, Beyoncé and Shakira, and put an emphasis on the hidden star power she had restrained the whole time. Now, in 2024, Reasonable Woman does the opposite as she enlists help from guest artists and DJs to encapsulate the past six years – but there’s no innovation or originality.