Eliza Shaddad's 'Future' Is a Dynamic Art Piece Centralizing Self-reflection and Personal Growth

Photo: Mel Tjeong / Courtesy of Super Cat PR

Future is a deeply insightful album that projects Eliza Shaddad's focus on a hereafter decidedly informed by the past.

Eliza Shaddad

Beatnik Creative

26 October 2018

Impassioned women are taking back popular culture. They are reclaiming cultural space to voice their acrimony while exhibiting how rage often overlaps with regret, indecision, and empowerment. Eliza Shaddad's debut album, Future, is a dynamic art piece centralizing self-reflection and personal growth as ensconced by fury and hesitation. Future finds Shaddad escaping unsatisfying relationships and her own inner thinking yet ultimately moving towards solace. The album musically captures her attempt to remain credulous while pacifying the fear that lurks when change is afoot. Future is a deeply insightful album that projects Shaddad's focus on a hereafter decidedly informed by the past.

Realizing she "can drive straight into the future", "White Lines" encapsulates a literal and figurative imagining of Shaddad's ethos. Written while taking a road trip through Australia and with not much else to do other than think and drive, the trip and track project Shaddad's learned self-confidence and strength. When she sings "I know if I hold brave and true", she's providing the necessary self-talk to counter the anxiety underscoring her departure. Driving alone in the dark is a reclusive and fluid act. Here Shaddad is akin to Jack Kerouac's Sal Paradise who seeks movement as a means to enable identity construction. Much as the characters from On the Road, Shaddad's frenzied passage symbolizes the search for certainty.

"White Lines" clocks in at an impressive five and a half minutes, an almost unheard of length for a first single. However, the length lends itself to the song's meditative qualities. The listener is becalmed by Shaddad's vocals, reverberating on a background loop. The placidity is short-lived though, as thunderous guitars change the energy to unadulterated indie rock. Shaddad's earnest contemplations contrast with the billowing guitars generating an image of a tempestuous psyche. Similarly, the heavy guitar and percussion on "Your Core" creates a cacophony representing her agitation. The instrumentation reflects the grunge aesthetic and tendency to portray rage with riotous and gritty music. The track fades into an incomprehensible and staticky dialogue with the only intelligible phrase being "everything is fine". That audibly signals Shaddad's primary objective: despite the turmoil and anger, reclamation will manifest. Future's mainstay is the balance of fury and chaos with quietude and acceptance.

Yet finding equanimity is not always simple or redemptive. In "My Body", Shaddad explores the turbulent mindset that results from seeking solitude. Essentially, when breaking up with someone is necessary for enacting self-care, but doubt about the decision lingers. She captures this impasse when she questions, "I don't know if I am right / I don't know if I am wrong... I can't seem to shake the feeling I made a mistake / Every night your memory is keeping me awake." At this point, the instrumentation picks up, and a forlorn yet fierce guitar epitomizes the necessary loneliness. The self-questioning resumes in "Are You There". The album's standout, the hauntingly beautiful and tender vocal distortion gives the track a celestial feeling. The repetition of the lyrics "are you there" render an image of a spinning mind, one riddled with question and anxiety. Finally, "Goes to Show" finds her accepting a positive mindset despite heartache.

Shaddad uses the album to consider the science of her mind from multiple perspectives. Hence, each track reveals a different episode of her story. Future is more of a confessional journal rather than a musical album. In "Slow Down" she reminds herself "slow down, you'll tire yourself out" while in "Daydreaming" she realizes "I should just move away / find something new to sink my teeth into / find someone else to take your place." The tracks' and the album's candor take listeners into Shaddad's deep mind and demonstrates the fluctuations between feelings and behaviors. The album clearly demarcates Shaddad's coherent narrative created from the analysis of her deeply personal experiences. By recording her thoughts, she declutters her mind and reflects on her life's past and Future.

Despite the focus on vulnerability, Shaddad reclaims her agency on "This Is My Cue". The track portrays Shaddad choosing her trajectory and refusing complacency. An anthem for anyone scared of change, Shaddad reminds "I've been seeing something moving / It's out there in the darkness, calling me / It's terrifying and yet soothing / It's telling me I must stop stalling." Her voice is strongest as she reaches the notes to sing "maybe I'll leave today". Considered in tandem with "White Lines" and "My Body", Shaddad demonstrates how strength and solitude are not always instantly empowering. Rather, enduring fear and insecurity are essential to personal growth. She reaffirms indecision is vexing, but it also leads to resoluteness.

The finale, "(To Make It Up to You)", begins with an audible exhale as a preamble to a quieter track and mind space. Shaddad atones and asks "what can I say to make you happy again". Despite the moments of progression, Shaddad again vacillates: "I don't think it matters now how much I write or sing / I never truly seem to learn a thing." Without heavy production or ornamentation, Shaddad ends the album by concretizing the belief that personal progression is indefinite and non-linear.

The album in its entirety is a narrative showcasing moments of strength, vulnerability, and indecision. By listening to Future from start to finish, listeners gain insight into Shaddad's mentality and her search for clarity. A stellar debut album, Fortune is relatable in its sentiment and alive with Shaddad's inner strength.






The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.


The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".


Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".


Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.