We are not far from the 4th season of Netflix’s hit series Sex Education, one of the most significant ones out there, important for its forward-thinking direction. What does all this have to do with the Sanctum? I’m grabbing this chance to talk about Dua Saleh’s latest release, 'Crossover'. SexEd’s beloved non-binary character, Cal, has her own discography and got a new follower out of me the moment I discovered her music. Pressing PLAY right away!
During the opening track ‘Chosen’, Saleh will surprise you, especially if you’re coming from Sex Education discovering that Dua Saleh makes music as well. Their vocals are whispery yet confident, slightly echoing inside minimal, spacey instrumentation, mainly relying on one kick, ethereal keys and bass. What’s really interesting about the style of their singing is that they can sound somehow sluggish yet totally present at the same time, making the artist one uniquely passionate persona. ‘Chosen’ is a contemporary RnB track approached gently from an artist that has their own way of being sensual and erotic. ‘Day to Day’ is made for the summer, either to dance to at some beach bar in the Greek Islands or to jam to in the car heading for the beach. Not sure if it’s just that summer holidays is what I miss most but ‘Day to Day’ gave me this vision of the cool sea on the feet or the hot sunrays on the face.
And then Saleh is going latin with this heavy banger, ‘Cuentame’ where the kicks have the starring role and together with the vocal effects reminded me of Arca’s Kicks series, the collection of 5 albums they released in 2021 all at once. ‘Cuentame’ is super energetic through its industrial, dance vibe and hot, Spanish temperament. Saleh’s expression gets sassier here too, showing how flexible and adaptive they can be, bending their signature style any way its needed. And then comes my cup of tea, personal favourite of this album, the obscure ‘Focal’ where we get a gentle mix of techno, house and let’s say dark-pop only to give a taste of the vibe. This track gets the best out of Saleh’s indolent performance and murmuring articulation, for its just as subdued, psychedelic and mystical. The combination is truly ideal and the outcome makes ‘Focal’ one of the most standout tracks in the album if not THE most standout one.
Then they go back to the latin rhythm with ‘fitt’ and ‘buzzin’ where they sound extra playful and more eager to explore their vocal dynamics. Even though ‘fitt’ sounds kind of flat to me, I definitely recognise its addictive properties and the reason it got more attention and a music video. Still I’m always standing on the experimental side and for that reason, I can’t help being drawn by ‘Buzzin’. This goes in my personal top 2 together with ‘Focal’ for its huge, aggressive percussion and primal choir that offers a ritualistic, pagan flavour which makes the track really transcending. Absolutely stunning. ‘Tic Tic’ is a powerful reggaeton, totally hit single-worthy material where Saleh is exploring their Spanish output further, making one of the most memorable moments in the album. I especially appreciated the parts where their voice is reverberating in such an elegant, mesmerising way.
The following ‘Pearl’ sounds very familiar when you’re listening to Dua Saleh’s music, meaning it has all those qualities we’ve mentioned during the beginning of this review that make their own personal sound. Performance style, instrumental approach etc. Personally I find it one of the least memorable pieces in here and same goes for ‘trash snacks’ where the artist is leaving their addictive beats and takes a more abstract direction. Not much I connect with here. Anyhow the track definitely brings another flavour into this body of work. Nothing of the above applies to the closing ‘fav flav’ where we have an eastern - vibed pop gem where Saleh together with Duckwrth make one of the most addictive tracks yet. Both artists have their chill, laid-back attitude working in perfect coordination over a super fun beat and foxy flute melody and so this chemistry makes this one another standout track in this album.
Dua Saleh caught my attention about half a year ago through their Spotify Exclusive song ‘Macrodosing’ which I absolutely adored, and from this moment they got a dedicated follower out of me. I’m really glad I got the chance to come across their music for I wouldn’t have listened to this album otherwise. All in all, Crossover is a super fun ride in its own special way, breeding experimental electronic sounds with reggaeton beats and this Spanish temperament they effortlessly pull off. Until next time!
Enjoy Crossover here: