"Sike" by Abz Winter

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"Sike" by Abz Winter

Review

Her press strapline for Abz Winter's new single "Sike", which is released on 24th May is that it will "have the listeners unsure of what to expect next".

There is no way that I'd argue with that, but what I would contend (and have consistently done so for the last five years) is that this is at the heart of Abz's musical DNA.

She is one of those few local pop writers who can pitch her work at several different levels simultaneously. That she retains the same gleeful & exuberant persona from her earliest career days is to her credit and should be a major factor is progressing her to wider audience contexts: her (many) serious songs are infused with tongue in cheek elements and the title of this release speaks for itself. (The cover art is pretty freaky too). However, as a whole (long) sequence of reviews in the magazine has demonstrated, her capacity to move on musically from song to song has also been there from day one.

I'm not sure that she receives sufficient credit for this aspect of her craft, so I'll keep on banging on about it if you pardon me for so doing.

For there are new changes aplenty with "Sike". I'm delighted that Abz is now with professional management (VNS Management since you ask) as this will help her unlock her tremendous potential.

Having moved on from essentially solo work last year, she has now found more new collaborators in Glasgow (Hamish Reilly & producer Bruce Rintoul) and again this has left its imprint upon her sound.

The first thing that struck me was just how complex "Sike" is. Abz's music usually has a lot of detail in there which I suspect is not spotted due to the panache of the performance, but given the unusual structure here, is making a bold statement that she is as original on the musical side as she is the lyrical.

The most striking part of this is "an ode to 2000's cheerleading" which is she is particularly pleased with. I assume this bit is a personal predilection as I can't otherwise account for why it's in there, but hats off to her for including it as it adds both quirky character and another catchy hook.

Another helpful hint from her manager's press release is the open acknowledgement of how the abrupt switches which provide the unusual structure which I mentioned are "luring you into a false sense of genre". Smart & sophisticated songwriting in fact.

Aimed at "..the SINGLESSSS out there.." (Abz's own profusion of S's) the song celebrates the virtues of autonomy in the face of inadequate options ("I have high standards and out of the people I meet: nobody fits the brief! - I always try to give them the benefit of the doubt but they just end up annoying me…I refuse to settle for second best life is just too short, I would much rather be single & happy".)

It's a "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" song for 2024's world and the only emotionally true way of expressing that sense of realisation and empowerment is through an exuberant delivery: which as you know is Abz's trademark.

Emphasised by the fresh punk-orientated guitar sound that she transitioned to last year (a fit so perfect for her music), the track clearly has a lot of thought go into the details (I'm sure teaming up with new collaborators helps this) yet the characteristic Abz Winter vibe is left intact so it still glistens with a sense of spontaneity.

Though we probably measure her success on a song-by-song basis, behind the scenes the accumulated progress is mounting up. Abz's songs have now had airplay on over 120 stations around the world and featured on numerous playlists including Spotify Fresh Finds and she ended 2023 as an AMEX Gold Unsigned Winner. 

The fact that she has more dimensions than most of those of her age group to whom she might be compared (without a doubt at a local level but clearly way beyond by now) is paying off step by step. Her magnificent voice has always been used with discretion & nuance and by now the evidence of her writing skills is proven by plenty of evidence. She's also long shrugged off any initial chains of genre.

I am not one of those reviewers who copy/pastes Press Releases into their articles: I certainly appreciate them & use the factual information but feel I do need to take a step backwards for objectivity's sake. However in this case, Abz's PR suggests that "…the final product is anthemic, exciting, youthful, fun, crisp and infectious.." and I yet again cannot dissent from that.

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