by Matt Caprioli 

Is Saya her real name? A shout out to the dance-music aesthetic from Bolivia? No one really knows. And that’s part of the appeal of this 21-year dashing scarlet from Toronto and LA. Her image is subtractive, only appearing exactly how she wants. Her Instagram is rightfully popping and her Twitter is golden. But for any more info, you’ll have to contact her management.

That kind of control appears in her latest EP, Chills & Thrills, released a couple weeks back. Chills & Thrills delivers on its title. The fun-loving EP is a bit like a merry go around decked out with bling, replete with Rolls-Royce waiting in the parking lot. Each of the five tracks here are a delicious hedonistic spiral. Think Lana Del Rey retro chic with Lorde’s refined moods and Camila Cabello’s swag and humor.

Everywhere on this EP, the lyrics are delicious: infinity rhymes with divinity; there’s Vanilla Sky references and Fifty Shakes inflections; “My body’s your language written all over your skin like a blanket.” Saya’s often billed as an R&B singer, which she excels at, but there’s so many pop, funk, and hip-hop elements, even tropical, it’s a treat to see her combine everything to make her own element.

Seductive is the operative word here, and one can imagine many a baby conceived to the dripping with “Paradise in Trouble.” As Saya sings with confident aplomb, “why you pulling out like it ain’t tight/ like my body blessings ain’t giving you life.” It’s presented with a sort of cheeky confidence that keeps this rather forthright question from being ludicrous.

Chills & Thrills is all about Saya embracing her sexuality. That’s apparent even without reading the essay she published last August with the release of “Ice:”

“My visuals and lyrics are often of a sexual nature. It is something I am passionate about; I am fascinated with the human condition and our desires as human beings – what we lust for, what drives us, what weighs us down… I want to make music for everyone, but I always try to come at it from an empowering perspective….We should celebrate women who can confidently express themselves instead of shaming them.”

There aren’t any music videos for Chills & Thrills just yet, but you can get a sense of her visual. aesthetic with Cold Fire, where she plays a dominatrix.

Eschewing doubts, hedonism espousing, Chills & Thrills is the perfect EP to listen to whenever and wherever. If you have the chance to see her perform April 13 at Baby G in Toronto, don’t walk.

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