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.





Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.


Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.


JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.


All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.


Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.


Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.


Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.


'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.


Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.


Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

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.