Healing Is Difficult (10th Anniversary Edition) [Deluxe Version]

Healing Is Difficult (10th Anniversary Edition) [Deluxe Version]

Before Sia's sophomore LP, Healing Is Difficult, was released in 2001, the fledgling Australian pop singer was in dire need of a do-over. Her solo debut, OnlySee, had arrived four years earlier to little fanfare, so the singer headed to London for a change of scenery and sound. Across the pond, she found vocal work with funk futurist Jamiroquai and downtempo group Zero 7—the pulsating influences of which can be heard throughout the sinewy R&B and soul of Healing Is Difficult. The cathartic confessionals that would later cement Sia into the pop canon are at their rawest on songs like “Drink to Get Drunk,” as she unflinchingly delves into intrusive thoughts and self-destructive behavior. Propulsive drums and jazzy horns create a deceptively whimsical canvas as Sia gradually reveals that she finds solace in her grief over a deceased lover at the bottom of a bottle. On the title track, she admits to binging drugs to cope with trauma, noting how self-prescribing helps with tension and boredom, though side effects include becoming alienated from her loved ones. As Healing Is Difficult unfolds, it becomes apparent Sia is also hooked on another corrosive vice: toxic men. The galling “Taken for Granted” finds the singer waiting in cars and theater lobbies for a man who lacks concern for her time, while on “I'm Not Important to You” she asserts her self-worth by chanting a mantra of “You don't deserve me” over percussive bossa nova. Transmuting her early influences of acid jazz and R&B with searing, white-knuckled songwriting, Sia laid out her blueprint for future English pop phenoms Amy Winehouse and Adele. Her soul-bearing epics mostly arrived in first person, like on the mournful “Blow It All Away,” but the cinematic vignettes of “Fear” also gave a bird's-eye view of the profound, long-term ramifications of emotional anguish. Healing Is Difficult is filled with brave, searingly honest songcraft wrapped in bohemian flutes and hypnotic basslines; a world of contrast that Sia gladly calls home.

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