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Sedate strings play out over the closing moments of Most Of The Boys offering a sense of quiet introspection. The sounds of cello and violin softly roll over one another, creating a gorgeous coda that allows the listener to collect their thoughts, consider their space, reflect. It's the oasis at the end of a musical journey, something which the lyrics preceding the instrumental hint at. "You've been my adventure," sings Sasha Siem in a hushed voice. On the surface the lyrics suggest they are about a break-up, but they could just as easily be about the creation of the record which at this moment is drawing to a close.

An adventure, an excuse, an obsession now being let loose - it's certainly one way of looking back at the path that led to this record. Siem, a classically trained musician and already an accomplished composer, has been making music since the age of five. Having spent the last few years composing for the likes of the London Symphony and Philharmonic Orchestras, Siem felt a compulsion to make music for herself, particularly to allow for the creation of music that focused on the voice. This was an aspect that Siem felt was missing from her commissioned compositions and on Most Of The Boys, she puts forth an extraordinary vocal performance.

Siem's voice flits between the hushed, seductive croon of a jazz vocalist and powerful wails - on tracks like 'Seamy Side', she manages to run the full range in just a matter of minutes. Opening with a whisper, before ascending to a yelp of "get out!" and returning again to delicate tones; it's a performance of opposites reflecting the line "we are of two minds." Other songs, however, are more traditional in their performance, with Siem's voice allowing itself to be revealed gradually, rising to glorious heights on 'My Friend' and 'So Go'. This versatility allows the album to present ballads against a riotous form of chamber pop.

Most Of The Boys is a beguiling record blending contemporary composition, pop and an idiosyncratic songwriting style that makes for a deeply rewarding listen. It's not an easy record to just dive into, that much is clear from the titular opening track. Its stabs of cello and percussion lend a theatric air, but sudden scraping bows layer in an element of uncontrollable chaos. As the vocals and instruments strike around one another there's an underlying confusion over which element is leading the other, is it Siem's vocals, or that of the music? This becomes a common question throughout the record as Siem and her arrangements fall in and out of step with one another.

If there is a conceptual thread through the album it is Siem's role as a troubadour. Her protagonist deals in emotional entanglements but along with the dramatic presentation of the arrangements Siem appears to be playing with the idea that her troubadour is not as in control of her music and, by extension, her passions as it would initially appear. This certainly seems to be the case in 'So Polite' where the tension between the vocals and the strings spills out during the middle of the song. At this point the music's violent contortions suggest an image of the troubadour being thrown this way and that, beholden to the whims of an unseen puppeteer.

The strength of the record, however, lies in the beauty of the arrangements, creating an intriguing surface layer that helps to draw you in and push past the less accessible moments. 'Tug Of War' features a waltzing violin melody over deep, plucked cello and bass creating an evocative, melancholic mood that manages to overshadow Siem's quiet performance. Meanwhile the grandiose sense of scale afforded by 'Proof' and its combination of swirling strings and electrical noise provides a cinematic thrill.

Most Of The Boys is so singular in its vision and its approach that there really is nothing else like it. Sasha Siem has taken the wealth of her experience to date and packaged it into a wondrous collection of songs which, whilst they might not share a narrative link, share a thematic one. As a record it might seem initially aloof and mysterious, but this begs us to scratch away at the layers one by one to really understand it. 'Valentine' tells us this record was an obsession for the artist, now it must become an obsession for us.

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