Heartbreak, Courage, and Breaking Free

Maria El Hage
Mardi 31 mai 2022

If our stories are anything alike, then you and I have discovered Faouzia’s music thanks to the Internet—thanks to people who had already fallen in love with her music before we did, and who unhesitatingly reposted her singing videos to their Instagram stories.

While Faouzia has been making music since 2017, the Moroccan-born artist officially released her first full-length album entitled CITIZENS on the 19th of May 2022.

Up until the release of CITIZENS, Faouzia’s songs revolved around her interactions with her entourage, her friendships-gone-wrong, and her reminders that we can surmount our hardships (listen to This Mountain and Exothermic if you haven’t already).

However, CITIZENS brings a whole new asset to the game with new themes and newer musical twists. The album begins with RIP, Love, a track adorned by Arabic influences and addressing a romantic relationship that is just not worth maintaining any longer—is it because the love isn’t there anymore, or was it never there to begin with? In fact, the theme of relationships falling apart/not working out appears to be recurrent throughout this album. In the tracks Anybody Else and I Know, which are respectively third and fifth on the list, Faouzia talks to her lover who hurt her and who is no longer a part of her life. In both those tracks, the singer exhibits her powerful vocals, astounding high notes, and signature yodel-like voice cracks, allowing the emotions to reach the listeners in an enchanting fashion.

However, we certainly cannot skip the second track called Thick and Thin. In this song, the vocalist brings genuine emotional support to whomever might need it (“When you feel like you just can’t win, and the shadows are creeping in, I will be there through thick and thin”). I must say that it isn’t unlike Faouzia to talk about being there for other people, even if it might lead to disappointment. Thick and Thin is a personal favorite, not only because of the lyrics, but also because of the singer’s effortless melismatic singing of the words “thin” and “dim”, as well as the pounding drums that give the song an upbeat, hopeful turn.

Fourth on the album is the exotic track SoLie, which also tackles a significant flaw in the relationship, but this time the artist included a tropical touch to her heartbroken yodels. The songwriter seems to talk about a partner who keeps lying to her (“Leading me on, it’s so wrong that it’s right when you lie”), but she doesn’t want to step out of the relationship regardless (“You know we can still imagine, fantasizing that it’s not too late”).

Next comes one of my favorite Faouzia songs—initially released on YouTube only—called Don’t Tell Me I’m Pretty. The song talks about an abusive relationship (“You got me crying in the shower—look at the power that you hold”), with the artist reclaiming her own strength in the chorus through confrontation. This track is the perfect mix of haunting synth, a thrilling falsetto bridge, and rhythmic Arabic percussion. Moreover, a similar theme can be heard in the album’s final track Puppet, in which Faouzia reminds the abuser that she “could never be a puppet”, that she can never be brought down, and that she will always be free. This song is not only unique because of the distinguished high note towards the end and the staccato pronunciation of the word “puppet”, but also by Faouzia’s incorporation of the word “حُرّيّة” (meaning “freedom” in Arabic).

Finally, it’s important to talk about Faouzia’s Minefields, in collaboration with John Legend. The 21-year-old artist explains this song herself and says, “Minefields examines what we, as humans, are willing to do to reunite with a loved one – whoever it may be. It poses the question, during times of desperation or despair, what risks are we willing to take, driven by the power of love? This is especially poignant during these trying times.”

It is certain that Faouzia is one of the most talented artists I have ever listened to, notably because of how real and raw the emotions she conveys in her songs are, in addition to her outstanding singing abilities and influences. The artist has many tricks up her sleeve, and I personally wish to witness each one of them.