Steel Yourself

Steel Yourself
Label: Endemik
Length: LP
Rated: NONE
Media: CD
Format: Album
WorkNameSort: Steel Yourself
To know Sontiago’s music is to know the Portland, Maine, native herself; the two are not mutually exclusive, as evidenced by her preface of song explanations before the lyrics of each track in the liner notes. As if on a mix tape for a friend, she lays out the origins and meanings in diary fashion. This isn’t to say the music is not open to interpretation, but while navigating Sontiago’s eclectic terrain – she bats around genres from neo-soul to postcore to downright punk – it helps to have an emotional road map. On “Crush the Rainbow,” Anticon producer Alias provides a manic jazz-hop mishmash beat and, to hear Sontiago tell it, she responded by getting a contact buzz and spitting impossibly nimble fragmentations (“Dice rolling, tight-rope walker, sideline-sitting, wide-eyed gawking”). At times, the confessionals can be uncomfortably open: She explains that “Hollow,” with its traditional jazz mantra sing-song, was written just after meeting her husband, who worried (justifiably, she admits) about her ability to be monogamous. “I hope that I can keep you happy, never bear the scarlet letter upon my chest,” she explains. At the time small comfort for her husband, I’m sure, but an audible joy for all of us now.

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