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Santigold - 'I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions' (Album Review)

Tuesday, 14 August 2018 Written by Milly McMahon

With dancehall continuing to enjoy an influential spot in the mainstream Santigold has combined with Mixpak label owner Dre Skull on 'I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions', a mixtape that finds her dipping into fresh waters.

The collection fuses together the finest elements of Santi’s creative aesthetic: her ability to skip nonchalantly from song to song, plus the channelling of political, strident lyrical content over a backdrop of easy beats. She is an intelligent woman and 'I Don't Want' feels like it reflects what is about to happen in new music.

Santi's ambidextrous approach to making music juxtaposes depth and mood, and this mixtape is no exception to her creative rules. Confident and curious, she is an open-minded lyricist questioning her world’s morality and motivations, striking out at haters while maintaining a sense of vulnerability.

What differentiates this from her previous work is the amplification of instrumentals and more simplistic backing beats. Dre’s work is kept high in enough in the mix that Santi’s vocals make sure the pairing plays out like a duet on record.  

Gold Fire is a purist’s dancehall track complete with signature hooks and samples, while the opening track Coo Coo Coo resonates with typical Santi badass feminism. Reacting to catcalling on the street, she sings oh so sweetly about her disdain for low key marginalisation. If no heed were paid to the lyrics, the track could just be another sunny anthem, enjoyed as much for serotonin-induced feelings as for its warning to men everywhere to have more respect.

A total departure from her usual processes and the LP format, this 'I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions' feels like a fun-filled moment shared intimately between Santi and Dre. The rush of excitement and appreciation for each other's work is tangible, as evidenced by the ease of their interactions.

On the title track Santi speaks candidly about who she is now. “I don’t want no regrets,” she sings. “Wasting my time, not saying what I meant. Don’t want to be a fake. I don’t want to beg. I don’t want to be a waste. I don’t want to be a lie. It ain’t sincere if I hold it back.” This bold foray into dancehall, then, is not an opportunity to judge a visionary singer-songwriter. Instead it is a journey that deserves appreciation and exploration.

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