After a five year hiatus, SZA has finally released her latest album, SOS. Released on the 9th December 2022, SOS had already accrued 1.4 billion streams by 30th January 2023. It’s clear that the long awaited album was worth it.
I didn’t know what to expect with SZA’s new album. I had become a fan of SZA’s music only recently, in 2021, and her 2017 debut album CTRL was getting me through my first year of university. After the anticipating wait, I indulged myself into her new album and have fallen deeply in love with it.
While there’s a mix of upbeat and slow songs, each has different but similar meanings. It’s interesting to see the way SZA’s songwriting has changed since her last album, CTRL.
One of the most noticeable factors of SZA’s albums are the feature artists. Travis Scott first featured in Track 2 of CTRL, ‘Love Galore’, which sparked a fan favourite. Scott returns to collaborating with SZA in Track 20 of SOS, ‘Open Arms’. In addition, Scott ad libs on Track 4, ‘Low’.
SZA’s songwriting is honest and relatable. Her lyrics are introspective and deal with themes of love, heartbreak and self-discovery. SZA’s songwriting is characterised by her ability to capture complex emotions in a few simple words.
One of the things I like about SZA that sets her apart as a songwriter is her willingness to be vulnerable. She’s not afraid to share her own struggles and insecurities in her music. SZA’s lyrics are often deeply personal, and SZA has said before that writing music is a way for her to process her own emotions.
Track 3, ‘Kill Bill’, is the most streamed song from the album, with just under 800million streams. It’s clear the song is catchy from the get go. I wasn’t a fan of the song when I first listened to the album, but once the song blew up on TikTok, I came around to like it. The song is about killing an ex, which isn’t the best idea in practice, however as the #1 hit, it was clearly the best idea for the album.
I might kill my ex, not the best idea
His new girlfriend’s next, how’d I get here?
I might kill my ex, I still love him though
Rather be in jail than alone
Track 4, ‘Low’, is an outstanding song on the album. The beat is a bit different to the other tracks, giving off vibes that make you want to get off the couch and dance. I love the way Travis Scott ab libs in this track, as it adds to the unique vibe.
My favourite song on SOS is Track 7, ‘Used’, featuring Don Toliver. Toliver is an American rapper and this is his debut feature with SZA. The song expresses the raw emotion of your feelings being played with, which many listeners can relate to. I like the way their voices flow well and compliment each other.
A song on the album that at first I didn’t like but absolutely adore now is Track 12, ‘Ghost in the Machine’, featuring Phoebe Bridgers. I’ll be completely honest – the reason why I didn’t like this song to start with is because of the feature. I’m not a fan of Bridgers, however, after listening to the song more and more, I’ve grown to enjoy her vocals and the emotional expression in her songwriting this is similar to SZA’s.
Overall, I love the way SZA has written SOS. It’s similar to her last album, but conveys messages more deeply, and exposes a more vulnerable side of SZA. I love the way that both myself and other fans of SZA can relate to the album, and can feel the emotions she is trying to convey through her songwriting. SZA has improved immensely over the last five years and its shown in the 23-track album.