Salt Ashes: Killing My Mind — The Darkness at the Edge of the Dancefloor

Salt Ashes
Credit: From the video for 'Lucy' on YouTube

Salt Ashes doesn’t really care what you think about her music. That much is clear in the certainty of Killing My Mind.

After all Veiga Sanchez, otherwise known as Salt Ashes, says, ‘I’ve learnt over the years to be unapologetic with music and what I want to say and to allow whatever is inside to come out.’

So what’s come out? Gloriously smooth dancefloor diamanté.

Salt Ashes sits in a tassled outfit
Credit: Rio Carceiro

Yeah, there is a lot of it about, but the name tells it like it is. This music has waited to get in and ends up weeping over a red wine.

Still sounding fabulous though.

And Sanchez has detailed the journey of this music through her own relationships, the problem of sexual harassment and effect on mental health.

But this doesn’t bear down on the music. Even if it did, that would be no issue; this wants to dance but it isn’t frivolous.

I have to say here and now that I have privilege as a man writing this because I have no understanding of the pressure from men that women encounter every day. I have empathy and I struggle for understanding, but I can never have that.

Veiga has spoken to Interview Under Fire about being honest, how difficult that is, and how she wants to just, ‘go for it, just to write whatever comes out, don’t filter myself.’

And this album is a sweet combo of the dancefloor debut and the more esoteric EP. This subverts the sweetness with the lyrics.

The sultry tones of ‘Lucy’ and the beat with ticking on top sounds very chart at the moment—those pushy synths too, smooth and danceable, it really believes in itself.

And so it should, as she said to Wonderland, it’s based on a disturbing experience: ‘I was filling up my car. A man was opposite me getting his own fuel and was staring at me. I awkwardly, but politely, smiled at him which he took as an invitation to come over and harass me. I apparently “gave him a look” and in his words “what I was wearing was too sexy to not be interested.”‘

And the video for that track, with a predatory male telling her ‘you’d better wear a longer skirt’, depicts sexual assault and the reprisals the predator receives.

It’s incredibly effective, bold and the line walked between the bright Pop and the dark sentiment is just breathtaking.

Elsewhere, the lovely Jean-Michel Jarre backing synths clash with the chart vocals in ‘Mad Girl’. The dry drums and wafting synths add some real anguish to ‘Screw Over You’—that drum very Prince in its beat of life feel later on.

This album shimmers and shines beautifully. ‘Too Many Times’ skitters along with a winsome vocal floating above, but has moments of instrumental push when the darkness enters, only to run back to the light vocal melody again.

But this sometimes just dances. That bubbly synth and soaring chorus will surely entice you onto the dancefloor—‘Love, Love’ has casters. Giorgio Moroder has been mentioned and there is his smooth beat enticement in a lot of this music.

Veiga can also sometimes bring it down to piano and vocal, and when that happens, things sound chart friendly. And although some will really enjoy that, we do have a lot of it.

She never just does that though, there’s darkness here and a little grit with the pearl, that slight extra feel makes all the difference.

When ‘Powerplay’ pushes through on chattering synths and disco claps, things are so much better.

We end with the almost incantation of ‘Never Be Wrong’ which batters through on echoing drums and a fizzing synth to end.

Salt Ashes calls herself Dark Pop and that’s exactly right—the sounds, the lyrics, the ideas subvert the dance, but if that’s what you came to do, that’s OK too. Previous tracks have hit the Billboard charts and Killing My Mind will surely be kicking those doors down soon.

And that voice is a whisper, a chart friendliness and a Kate Bush swooping emotion which doesn’t sound like many other voices out there.

Veiga told Hobo Jack she was ‘trying to make people dance or cry to the music I make’. This album truly accomplishes that.

There’s more going on here than so many other Dance, Pop and chart artists out there. This second album is a massive leap forward. Can’t wait to see what Salt Ashes does next.

Written by Steve Swift

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