It’s rare these days to find an artist so developed as Scott Delta this early in her career. A true polymath, her extensive talents have been apparent to me and many others for quite some time now. Whether she sings or raps, or even just produces a song, she provides a true Midas touch to the music she creates. Sabina is the culmination of a year of hard work, turmoil, and focused dedication to her craft. Trading much of her hip-hop adjacent stylings for R&B grooves, Delta exudes more comfort and passion than ever before with her vocals throughout this EP. Her artistic ability shines as bright as ever, from the incredible bounces of her micro-detailed drum patterns to the lush soundscapes she creates with her melodies. A four-track effort (titled after the lover of Roman emperor Nero), she channels themes of love, loss, and self-actualization, painting a portrait of the past year and giving a closer look at where she is at in her life.
The opening track, “Parfait”, starts strong with a lovely progression of synthesized organ chords atop a simple swinging drum pattern. Delta’s voice is not the first you hear on Sabina; that would be fellow Enyu member Gina, delivering a passionate introductory verse full of reverb-drenched vocal harmonies. When Delta does come in, she slides; a silk-smooth flow, mind-bending melodies, and clever layricism characterize just about every verse on this project, but her range on this song is nothing short of brilliant. Her delivery is confident as she celebrates her recognition in the scene and success as an artist in spite of detractors. (“I said I’m back up in it / Said I’d never make it, now you mad you see me winning”)
“How you get your lick back, America?” A spoken-word intro from Nayla Savannah leads into the second song on Sabina, “Get Back”. The instrumentation on this song is less dense but not any less beautiful; a fast-paced chord progression and swinging hi-hats create a sense of urgency in the rhythm that lays the foundation for Delta to unleash her masterful vocal performance. She finds an incredible number of pockets to flow in throughout the song, as if she is trading bars with herself, never sitting in one for too long. It only benefits the track— the instrumental itself doesn’t vary too much, but her range and varied use of vocal effects prevent “Get Back” from feeling too repetitive, offering a rollercoaster of rhythm and melody throughout the length of the song.
“Get Back is an interesting one; I had a lot of Ecco influence on it, and just like, very cloud rap. Just a form of self-expression that [embodied] the duality that exists within me of being non-binary and trans. The aggressive nature of being while expressing a more vulnerable side.” The influences Delta cites shine, particularly in the vocal inflections and aggressive use of Auto-Tune, but it never feels like she is biting. Delta fuses the aforementioned influences fluently, making every style she pulls from entirely her own, a heterogenous blend of stylistic traits that otherwise very rarely meet. The track concludes with another spoken-word outro that bridges this and “Love You Better”, seamlessly transitioning about halfway through the recording. “I can’t help but notice… and put my attention to the storm cloud.”
“Love You Better”, featuring Cole Campbell, is an R&B master class— Delta keeps proving the extent of her vocal prowess throughout this project, with this song being the lone cut she didn’t produce. That would instead be the very talented Stars, a frequent collaborator and powerhouse of melodic production. She channels themes of love and loss, fundamental differences between partners, and mutual dissatisfaction in the relationship— Delta describes the track as a “breakup song”, which becomes clear throughout the song’s length. The only gripe I have with this song is that it’s not longer, featuring just one verse from both artists. One of two features on the project, Cole Campbell delivers a rap-sung verse, reflection and relationship woes being the dominant theme throughout. Campbell showcases emotional vulnerability with ease, something artists often stumble trying to provide early in their careers, a sentiment echoed by Delta herself (“Without Cole on the third [track], especially– Stars as well, producing—I wouldn’t have been able to make that track without that and convey my emotions. Those were the biggest peers that helped me with that.”) Like “Get Back”, the production isn’t as thick as a lot of her beat selections. Still, the sparse drums and laidback melodies from Stars allow the artist to glide smoothly between different cadences throughout her verse, a skill she flexes in most of her performances on Sabina.
“Make me think I’m worth it,” Delta sings on the lounge-influenced banger, “Crash Beneath”. Showcasing some of her most technically impressive vocals to date, Delta croons over triumphant brass sections, mind-bending synth chords, and hip-swinging percussion, creating a gorgeous soundscape that acts as a fitting closer to the project. Throughout the length of the project, the extent that Delta has realized herself as an artist becomes clear as she channels that self-realization into self-actualization, pushing herself more and more in every sense with great success. “I feel music and creativity are a tide within the ocean, trying to reach a line which is unachievable. It’s out of your control. It is truly nature– there is no way to control a wave. There are small waves, and there are big waves, but I feel that this is the closest I’ve gotten [to controlling them].”
Over a year in the making, Sabina is a joyful exhibition of gorgeous grooves that further proves Delta’s status as one of the underground’s most promising artist-producers. While this project doesn’t attempt to sidestep convention as much as some of her other work– such as her recent production on fellow Enyu member Illmana’s Wake Up EP– Delta thrives in the framework of R&B stylings that she has expressed so much passion for throughout her career. Coming in at just under ten minutes, Delta manages to make each song on the project feel like a journey with her wide vocal range and array of impressive performances that fit like a glove over her warm production. I’m excited to see where she goes next musically, as she’s shown great proficiency in any genre she explores.
“I centered a lot of the themes and notions around the Roman emperor Nero. The old fable was basically, he played his fiddle as Rome– his world– burned around him. Which was a lot of it, like, I felt the world was burning around me. I couldn’t do anything but play the fiddle madly.”
- Steve (xoarctic)
Stream Sabina now on Spotify or Apple Music
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