I’ll never forget the first time I heard a song by Tash Sultana. I was scrolling through Instagram and one of my friends posted a video he’d made using Sultana’s song “Notion” in the background. Although I had never heard of this artist, it all sounded somewhat familiar to me. I don’t know what you call that but it stuck. As the months went by, I was going through some playlist recommendations and came across Sultana’s single “Salvation.” I remember the moment I heard it. I knew it was going to be my song “on repeat” for that week and several more after that. Not only did I find her voice captivating but the music being sung over was fascinating to me. Sultana’s debut album Flow State was released a few months later in August 2018.
Sultana’s career does not date back very far. While struggling with drug addiction and going through several months of therapy at the age of 17, Sultana became the lead vocalist in a band called Mindpilot. Once the band split in 2013, Sultana decided to branch off and with that, released her first solo EP in 2016.
The 23 year old Australian native is what one might call the “whole package” and is often referred to as a one-person band. With no features or any outside musicians, all 13 songs on this project are completely hers. That being said, Sultana is not your run-of-the-mill artist and nor is Flow State your run-of-the-mill album for that matter.
This album takes you in many different directions. From catchy sing-alongs like “Big Smoke” and “Cigarettes” to songs that have hardly to no any lyrics, such as “Seven” and “Blackbird,” Flow State is one hell of a ride. One minute you’ll be in a trance like state by way of Sultana’s feminine and smooth R&B voice and the next you’ll be headbanging to one of her many spontaneous guitar riffs.
The album starts with “Seed (Intro),” a short cut with just Sultana and her electric. Showing off her vocal range, it is the perfect way to begin the album. The record then transitions into some of the catchier songs such as “Big Smoke,” “Cigarettes” and “Murder to the Mind (Album Mix).”
The track “Seven” is a tribute to Sultana’s musical talents. With no vocals, this song is just all about the beats, which switch seven times, hence the title. After that, Sultana shows off her vocal skills again with “Salvation” and “Pink Moon” – one of the longest songs on the album – along with “Harvest Love” and “Blackbird.” On “Mystik (Album Mix)” Sultana teases a small taste of trumpet playing, just one of the 20 instruments she knows her way around. Flow State caps off it’s final three songs with “Free Mind”, “Blackbird,” a nine-minute acoustic jam with killer vocals and some sexy tamborine, and “Outro.”
Some might say listening to Flow State is like going over to a friends house and for a jam session. While most of these songs do have a solid structure, each one has it’s touch of spontaneity and randomness. Whether it’s a guitar riff, beat switch, or some crazy vocal changes, Sultana is not afraid to color outside of the lines and that is what I enjoy most about this album. Even if you are not a fan of Sultana or Flow State, I believe everyone would agree she deserves a nod at the very least for her undeniable talent and that she is someone to keep tabs on. I’m not sure what or when her next project will be, but I am looking forward for more to come.