Sky has no limits

The up-and-coming 21-year-old songstress explores her artistic versatility on her musically diverse second EP, 'Ghost'

SKY FERREIRA/ GHOST

From a very young age, LA-born Sky Ferreira was always destined for the limelight. Growing up around the late Michael Jackson, she spent her childhood singing gospel and opera before dabbling in acting and modelling. Thanks to her edgy, multi-ethnic looks, Ferreira thrived in the modelling world, appearing in Dazed and Confused, V, Harper's Bazaar and British Vogue, not to mention numerous high-profile ad campaigns for brands including Adidas, Calvin Klein and Yves Saint Laurent.

Her heart, however, has always been in music. Not long after putting up her own material on Myspace, she was contacted by famed Swedish production team Bloodshy and Avant (Madonna, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez), who would later produce much of Ferreira's 2011 debut, As If!

The five-track EP focuses heavily on Bloody and Avant's brand of Top 40 electro-pop _ a sound she didn't seem to be particularly keen on given her penchant for music of diverse genres.

Struggling to come to terms with her commercially driven label, she decided to delay her full-length debut with the release of Ghost, a second EP that features an eclectic team of producers from Jon Brion (Elliot Smith, Fiona Apple) and Dev Haynes (Florence and the Machine), to the Chemical Brothers and Greg Kurstin (Pink, Foster the People, Lily Allen, Kanye West). We have to say, for a record consisting of only five tracks, the line-up is beyond impressive.

Showing no traces of Ferreira's old sound, the opening track Sad Dream stands out with its elemental acoustic guitar and wistful lyrics. ''Only ever in dreams I wrap my arms around you/And standing in the water with me, I can tell you what I wanna tell you/And I hope it's not just a bad dream,'' she croons, channelling her inner folk-rocker that faintly reminds us of some of the greatest female artists of the '90s such as Jewel. The same bare production can also be heard on the country-tinged title track, where she portrays herself as a victim of a doomed relationship (Lana Del Rey would be proud).

Then, there's the grungy Red Lips, which sounds distinctively like something off a Garbage album _ hardly a surprise considering it's co-written by Garbage's very own frontwoman Shirley Manson. With the opening lines: ''Red lips, you're 10 a penny/Cheap shot, spreading your legs for the boys,'' things just don't get more Manson than that.

Three songs in and so far we've compared her to three markedly different artists. At this point, you may be wondering who Sky Ferreira really is as an artist. While we can't really answer that question on her behalf, we think that she's better off sticking to the retro-inspired synthpop sound on the remaining two tracks, Lost in My Bedroom and Everything Is Embarrassing. It's during these two songs that she emerges comfortably as herself, plus Everything Is Embarrassing ranked on many ''best songs of 2012'' lists, including our own. While Ghost most likely won't launch Sky Ferreira into instant pop stardom, it has established her as a fine pop star in the making _ one that's worth keeping an eye (and an ear) out for.

THE PLAYLIST

Dubberfield/ Just Rain

Hailing from indie label Siampirock Records, Thailand's own electronic outfit Dubberfield share with us their third single, following Up Chill and Shoes. Starting off with the sound of rain, the track kicks into gear with a simple drum beat, and is then joined by a slice of guitar and keyboard. The violin, too, is used to full effect, adding just enough wistful melancholy to the whole affair without making it emotionally overwrought. "When rain fades, emerge the brighter days/untrue love is not here to stay," sings frontwoman M, whose vocals feel warm and comforting not unlike the post-rain sunshine.

Justin Timberlake (featuring Jay-Z)/ Suit and Tie

Already it seems like 2013 is set to become the year of comebacks with the return of veterans including David Bowie, Suede, Destiny's Child and now Justin Timberlake. Taken from his upcoming new album The 20/20 Experience, Suit and Tie is as suave as Timberlake himself, straddling the smoothness of urban R&B and funkiness of retro-soul. The song largely benefits from the rap verses courtesy of Jay-Z and sleek production by Timbaland, the man behind Timberlake's previous two solo albums Justified and FutureSex/LoveSounds. "And as long as I've got my suit and tie/I'm a leave it all on the floor tonight," JT declares like he hasn't left the scene.

Kelly Clarkson/ Catch My Breath

In the true tradition of a greatest hits album, Kelly Clarkson squeezes in Catch My Breath, one of the new tunes included on her well-timed compilation, Greatest Hits: Chapter One. Here, the original American idol gives us what she does best _ delivering a self-empowering message alongside a catchy electropop production with rock elements. "Catching my breath, letting it go, turning my cheek for the sake of the show/Now that you know, this is my life, I won't be told it's supposed to be right," Clarkson croons, more self-assuredly than ever. The album features hit singles from her five studio albums since she won the American Idol title in 2002.

Julio Bashmore/ Au Seve

In the last year we have featured a dizzying array of dancefloor-ready singles from mainstream artists who were trying to cash in on the electronic dance music craze. But outside the Hot 100 and Top 40 charts, in the true-blue dance music landscape, Julio Bashmore is a guy who deserves a mention. The British DJ/producer started making beats when he was just 14 years old, before exploding on the electronic dance music scene back in 2010. To celebrate the recent launch of his own label Broadwalk Records, Bashmore releases a house masterpiece, Au Seve. Inspired by the call and response structure, the near seven-minute bass-fest boasts no big drops, but sparkles with lush synth melodies that tease and leave us wanting more.

Everything Everything/ Kemosabe

Manchester-based art-rock outfit Everything Everything follow up their second album's rowdy first single, Cough Cough, with an eccentric piece of earcandy intriguingly titled Kemosabe. As with anything we've come to expect from this band, the track is packed full of pleasant surprises. The boys have obviously mastered their own brand of sound, fusing elements of electro with rock, and throwing in some hip hop flavours for good measure. And like a cherry on top, frontman Jonathan Higgs' signature falsetto is a highlight in itself, and probably among the best in the business.

About the author

Writer: Chanun Poomsawai