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Review: Sasha Sloan’s ‘Loser’ breaks stigma around discussing mental health

Sasha Sloan hides under the covers of her bed for the album cover of 'Loser.' Sloan's music provides an honest, relatable voice for struggling individuals.

Photo Credit: Sasha Sloan promotional materials

Sasha Sloan hides under the covers of her bed for the album cover of 'Loser.' Sloan's music provides an honest, relatable voice for struggling individuals.

By Emma London, The Archer School for Girls

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Growing up in a society that has the tendency to sweep mental health issues under the rug, Sasha Sloan’s extended player [EP] “Loser” is a refreshing reminder that we are not alone in our sadness.

Sloan’s rise to fame is admittedly a rather strange one. In 2014, an image of her family home with the word “dork” painted alongside an arrow pointing to her room went viral when Sloan posted the image on Reddit. Taking advantage of her sudden popularity, she posted a link to her Soundcloud account and captured the attention of record producer Steve Lindsey. Suddenly, Sloan found herself picking up her life and moving to Los Angeles to pursue music.

Following the release of her first EP “sad girl,” the Boston native released her second EP, titled “Loser.” The EP consists of six songs: “The Only,” “Faking It,” “Older,” “Version of Me,” “Chasing Parties” and “Again.”

The EP opens with “The Only,” a track that highlights gentle guitar and Sloan’s exposed vocals. “Talking to the voices in my head/ Because at least they’re listening/ Right here’s an easy place to hide/ I stay in bed and shut the blinds,” Sloan sings. Right from the first track, Sloan showcases an honest, raw quality in her lyrics that is hard to find in music nowadays. The song sets the tone for the EP, hinting at the mellow and calm vibe carried throughout all six tracks. 

The third track on the EP, “Older,” deals with the realization that our parents are not the superheroes we grow up thinking they are. The first time I heard this song, I was overwhelmed with emotion. “Older” is one of the most brutally honest songs I have ever heard, and there is no doubt that the meaning behind the lyrics is equally important to Sloan as it is to her listeners. The track is a beautiful combination of raw vocals backed by guitar, piano and light drums.

Overall, the EP shows no sign of the overwhelming electronic presence most music is made with today. The songs are composed of Sloan’s deep and soothing voice accompanied by a guitar or piano. Sloan’s raw vocals allow her emotions to shine through on every track.

“When I started putting music out, I thought it was going to be too emo and sad. But I think I just accepted that I make car music, and I don’t make club music, and I’m very okay with it,” Sloan said in an interview with Billboard.

Upon my first listen to “Loser,” I was surprised at the honest nature of Sloan’s lyrics. Sloan does not hold back, to say the least. When I turn on the radio, I am immediately bombarded by musicians bragging about their lifestyles or income. Sloan’s vulnerable music is the complete opposite.

Throughout the EP, Sloan criticizes major role models in her life, such as her parents, and herself. The second track, “Faking It,” is centered around Sloan’s self-destructive habits, and being dishonest with a significant other. Sloan acknowledges her weaknesses, and it seems as if “Loser” is a way for her to cope with her insecurities.

The sole pitfall of Sloan’s EP “Loser” is the repetitive nature of the instrumentals behind her unique voice. When listening to the complete 18-minute EP in one sitting, it almost becomes easy to predict the next chord in the sequence. However, Sloan’s lyrics are so unique that it feels impossible to ever become bored with her music. 

When the stress of life starts to get to you, or sadness lingers, Sloan’s EP “Loser” is exactly the comfort needed. While the EP is more mellow and relaxed, I am not ashamed to admit that I scream along to the lyrics and jump around the kitchen when the circumstances allow it.

Nowadays, it’s rare to find a song that so openly speaks about struggling with mental health and identity, let alone an entire EP. Sloan does not make music for the purpose of it being played at a party, or just to fill the static with ad libs and computer-generated sounds. Sloan’s music cuts to the core and allows us to reflect on the way we deal with and accept our own emotions. 

This story was originally published on The Oracle on January 7, 2019.

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