In December, we featured upcoming London neo-soul artist Kianja's single "I Get By" on the PopMatters Picks playlist. It's an upbeat piano-driven number born of fierce determination to succeed and overcoming life's barriers. That track displayed Kianja's tremendous vocal power and range, and it marked her as a rising R&B talent with serious songwriting chops to create songs that viscerally connect with listeners.
Her introspection and self-criticism carry forth on her latest, a live take of the wistful and deeply affecting ballad, "In a Different Light". Again Kianja spotlights her vocal mastery in an emotionally raw and honest track where she pleads with a former love to see her "in a different light". Performing with piano and no other accompaniment allows her music to communicate simply and without presence as we genuinely experience her feelings. The minimal approach also highlights the strength of her songwriting and performing.
Kianja says, "In a Different Light" is essentially about the desire to show another side of myself. It is a love song connected to my growth as a young woman. In past situations, I behaved like an emotionally unstable, frivolous, broken little girl and that's not all of who I am. I wish I had shown more love and care instead of weighing down shoulders with my emotional baggage. I didn't understand that there was more to loving a man than looking sexy. I dismissed the fact that men need care and affection too. Writing that song helped me to start taking responsibility for the way I portrayed myself and just how difficult I can be. It helped me start being more honest about who I am and who I want to be."
Both of these stellar songs appear on Kianja's new EP, In a Different Light, that released last December.