I had zero expectations when I began listening to “Terra Firma,” the second studio album by Australian singer-songwriter Tash Sultana. I had never even heard of Sultana so I had no idea what kind of music they made. Based on the cover, with its bright colors and serpents, I thought this may be an exciting and experimental album. I was both surprised and underwhelmed by what I heard.
The album started on a peaceful note with “Musk,” a completely instrumental song. It was so pretty and upbeat, but also quite soothing. The next song “Crop Circles” was the same, but with singing by Sultana. And the song after was the same, and the song after that. It felt like if you had heard the first two songs, you’ve pretty much heard the entire album. I sincerely didn’t know when a song ended and another one began.
The songs didn’t vary in style or tone. If it weren’t for Sultana’s beautiful voice bringing life to each song, this album would be pretty boring. The beats remind me of the classic “lo-fi beats to relax/study to” video, a never-ending loop of songs that sound similar. On the one hand, the beats were well-produced and sounded great, but on the other, they weren’t anything I haven’t heard before.
Speaking of unoriginality, the lyrics weren’t pushing any envelopes. The song “Greed” sounds fine, but the lyrics seem overly simple: “It’s not about the money / Money put the money in the bank / Money breeds greed and greed is really bad.” It’s not a bad thing to bring up ideas that have been written about before, like money and the greed it leads to, but it is a bad thing to release lazily written songs.
I see a lot of talent in Tash Sultana, but they should take more risks with their production and lyrics. Truthfully, this is a very nice album, but nice isn’t always a good thing. Nice isn’t groundbreaking. But, not every artist has to be groundbreaking, and not every album needs to be something new. I’m sure “Terra Firma” has its audience, but I am not a part of it.