Gabriella Cilmi - The Sting on MUZU.TV.
The experiences inform much of her third album, The Sting. Nowhere more so than in the song Don’t Look Back where the 22-year-old reflects in a smoky rasp: “We’ve had our piece of heaven and we can’t go back.” Released on her own label Sweetness Tunes – a nod to her 2008 worldwide hit Sweet About Me – this is a strikingly assured set of songs which doff a cap to some of her favourite influences – Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Bessie Smith and most notably “that 90s Bristol sound” of Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack. Cilmi’s vocals – compared in the past to Amy Winehouse – have grown up here, along with her song-writing. “If the Devil were a woman maybe she’d understand me,” she growls in the title track; in Every Memory she sighs in a bruised tone: “You were always like my second skin/Now I can’t stop the seams from tearing.” The best song here is the ballad Vicious Love, where ambiguous feelings about a love affair pour themselves out into lines such as “Struggling to breathe between the waves/You make my body feel all kinds of pain” and “Silently deluded/Stronger in the mind/Together we’re unhealthy/Together it’s a ride”.