The evolving sound of South Africa’s Sannie Fox is captured on her new album, due for release by Just Music this August.
Titled My Soul Got Stranger, the album is heralded by first single, “Criminal for your Love” that powerfully illuminates the deep musical terrain mined by Fox on her first solo record since 2015’s Serpente Masjien.
Watch the official video to “Criminal for your Love” here:
In particular, “Sorrow” – a soulful track, replete with strings and a Stax-era mood, is one of several ballads on My Soul Got Stranger – a musical direction that adds an exciting new element to the mix of desert blues, soul and psychedelic rock that the musician is renowned for.
“Everything on the album has a softer element,”
Fox says of her new work.
“I wanted to be more melodic and lyrical with this album and so there’s more Jazz, Celtic and Folk guitaring, alongside the Malian-style and guitar solos that are so much part of my previous albums.”
The lyrical content of My Soul Got Stranger is also where this movement is visible.
“I wouldn’t describe it as a sad album because the music isn’t sad,”
“But the album has quite a lot of love lost and many male-female relationships that have not worked out, for whatever reason.”
When she first appeared on the South African music scene with Machineri, Fox’s ability to play blues-rock guitar was integral to a band built around just two Fender Stratocasters, a drummer and her powerhouse voice. Her belief in only the sparsest arrangements being able to serve the material was heard on Machineri’s self-titled 2010 debut as well as the multiple-South African Music Award nominated Serpente Masjien.
But, over the past three years, Fox’s approach to her original songs has progressed into new, at times achingly beautiful, areas, that depend as much on Fox’s guitaring as on her keys and synth playing and a multiplicity of studio elements.
“With the first two albums, I was determined to be a real purist,”
“I didn’t want to use any tricks or add anything. But with this album, I went completely against that. I said let’s use all the bells and whistles and completely cheat because I want to and because I can and because I’m going to enjoy it. I was very indulgent in putting three to five-part harmonies on the album, as well as layers of guitars, layers of synths, and many different samples.”
In preparation for the recording of My Soul Got Stranger, Fox worked on many different demos, gradually figuring out a sound that would remain true to her two previous albums - but also encapsulate this more expansive musical landscape. Once again working with producer Matthew Fink, the album was recorded at Popsicle Studios in Cape Town as well as Just Music’s Johannesburg studio over a period of just a month. With Fox on lead vocals, guitars, keys and synths, additional playing comes from Kurt Diedericks on drums, Ryan
McArthur on electric bass, double bass and backing vocals and Dylan Rooibokkie on backing vocals. The string arrangements and violin that add such emotional heft to songs like “Sorrow” are by Galina Juritz, a longstanding creative collaborator of Fox’s.
“Galina is classically-trained and really something of a genius. In fact, the first band that I played in when I was nineteen was with Galina and another guitarist. She’s currently studying in London and we’re definitely going to be working on some shows together.”
Fox is headed to London this July, to line up a series of live performances, and introduce My Soul Got Stranger to a broader international audience. Already acknowledged as amongst the most thrilling live performers in South Africa, Fox is excited about expanding this aspect of her creative expression.
“It’s going to be so interesting, approaching playing this album live. Because it is much more ballad heavy, it suits a more atmospheric and perhaps intimate setting. But there are still many visceral songs on the album, like ‘One Man’, ‘Colder to the End’ and “Like Fishes’, and the experience of performing both these aspects of my music live is going to be amazing.”
My Soul Got Stranger is available as a 13-track CD and 12-track vinyl. A 15-track version of the album is available on steaming platforms and for download.
“My Soul Got Stranger” is available on the following platforms:
Download on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/za/album/my-soul-got-stranger/1412808394
Stream on Apple Music