For those first introduced to Sia’s “Breathe Me” during the last episode of Six Feet Under, it’s almost impossible not to think of those haunting final moments of the show, during which Claire drives off in her new car and imagines the deaths of her entire extended family, when you now listen to the first few, distinctive notes of the song. Unfortunately, none of the other songs on the Australian-born singer’s sophomore solo effort Colour The Small One are anywhere near as immediate, but repeat listens reveal the album to be what the one-time Zero 7 vocalist describes as a “slow burner,” a druggy mesh of acoustic guitars, keyboards, and lush, cinematic string arrangements courtesy of Wil Malone and Gavyn Wright. Sia’s quivering vibrato is fragile like the self she depicts throughout: “I am a single grain of sand,” she says on the opening track “Rewrite,” describing how fleeting her love can be, and she likens herself to a crumbling cookie on the U.S. bonus track “Broken Biscuit.” That said, there are some surprisingly durable moments amid the delicate gauze, like the unexpected white-girl soul of “The Church Of What’s Happening Now” and “Sweet Potato,” which climbs to greater and greater heights until it reaches its spectacular bridge: “Now my inner dialogue is heaving with detest…I’m fading and placating, berate myself for staying/I’m a fool/I’m a fool.” And “The Bully,” which Sia composed with Beck after the pair met and performed a cover of “You’re The One That I Want” at a festival in Los Angeles, manages to turn an apologia to a boy she once picked on in school into a poignant love story. Come to think of it, there are several songs on Colour The Small One, including the prickly “Numb,” that might make you forget all about David Fisher’s unfortunate picnic table demise and start imposing your very own personal images of impossible love and certain death.
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