“Are you ready to get sad?” rising artist, Sasha Sloan asked a packed house at The Troubadour last week. “Well, it’s kind of the vibe,” Sloan says, as she points to the back drop on stage that reads ‘Sad Girl,’ a fitting name she dubbed for herself, as most of her songs speak about heart break, strained relationships, feeling like an outcast, and well- being fucking sad. The 24-year-old singer/songwriter has really been making a name for herself this past year and her fans at the sold out show were more than happy to get their sad on.
The crowd cheered loudly as Sasha Sloan took center stage, in almost complete darkness, with just her silhouette visible. They quickly quieted down as the gentle guitar strokes of the song “The Only” began. Sloan’s soothing vocals brought the vulnerable lyrics of the song to life, as she sang, “I can’t be the only one/ Who’s drinking by myself/ Wishing that I was somewhere else/ Talking to voices in my head/ Because at least they’re listening/ Right here’s an easy place to hide/ I’ll stay in bed and shut the blinds.”
Her tender voice had the room captivated. And though the song is undoubtedly a sad one, the lyrics also have Sloan reflecting on the thought that: “There’s gotta be somebody somewhere/ Who needs company/ And it’s comforting to know/ I can’t be the only one/ Who’s lonely tonight.” And that’s the hopeful reminder that Sloan’s music brings to her listeners, that we are not alone in our sadness, or our self doubt. And sometimes, it’s okay not to be okay. But most importantly, to know it helps to open up about those feelings of despair. The opening song set the tone for the rest of the mellow and calm (yet still highly entertaining) evening.
To those unfamiliar with Sloan or just recently discovering her music, you may have heard of her being referred to as an “up and coming” artist, but she has actually been involved with some major acts for a few years now. She’s been a featured vocalist on tracks for superstar DJ’s, Kaskade and Kygo and she’s also collaborated on songwriting for artists such as Camila Cabello, Odesza, and Tinashe, just to name a few. It was last spring that Sloan released her own EP Sad Girl and her solo career has been taking off ever since. And I gotta say I couldn’t be happier to see an artist like her making her way through the oversaturated pop scene. Most music out right now lacks the soul baring voice and honest, confessional type of lyrics that Sloan puts into her songs, so to me, an artist like Sloan is refreshing in every way. I can’t help but to be reminded of the 90’s, when Alanis Morrisette burst onto the scene and Jagged Little Pill, unexpectedly, blew up to be the monumental album it is. I wouldn’t say Sloan’s songs are quite as angsty as Morrisette’s, but her realness and poignant lyrics are what have me drawing a comparison.
Sloan performed all 6 of her songs from the new EP and the majority of tracks from Sad Girl, as well as an unreleased song called “Thoughts.” She also performed the Kygo collaboration “This Town,” and played guitar on this song. The catchy song was definitely a crowd pleaser and everyone sang along. Sloan talked about how crazy it was to be playing a sold out show at The Troubadour, especially considering it wasn’t too long ago that she was working at a gym literally right down the street. I always appreciate when artists recall their past and you can feel their genuine appreciation for their fans and their gratitude towards their growth and success.
Sloan asked the audience if they’d ever been through a break up, (girl, we are human and live in LA -aka the worst city to attempt dating- so umm yes, yes we have!) then introduced the song “Again”, which she wrote after a really bad break up of her own. She also mentioned that she may have wrote it while on an edible. Well shit, maybe I need to indulge in some more edibles! The song is one of my favorites and even though it’s a break up song, she takes the high road and reflects that “Even if I knew it would end/ Even if I knew we wouldn’t walk away friends/ I’d still do it again.” Wish I could say the same about my exes but I’d rather Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind some of them out of my memories. Kidding- kind of.
Sloan had a special guest join her on stage mid set. “This is my boyfriend Henry,” Sloan beamed, flashing her dimples, as she proudly introduced her beau. The audience cheered in approval. It was one of those “aww” moments, considering she had just been singing about a bad break up minutes before. After introducing her boyfriend (who, side note: is a record producer who goes by the stage name King Henry and has produced and co-written many of Sloan’s songs), she asked the crowd, “Do you want to hear a song about how fucked up my parents are?” The fans cheered, knowing she was referring to the emotional song Older, which talks about her parents divorce. Older was the first song of Sloan’s that I really connected with, as my parents divorced when I was young as well. I remember thinking, when I first heard the song, ‘Damn, that’s exactly how I feel about my parents now that I’m older and can look back on the situation with mature eyes.’ I even sent the song to my sisters figuring they would probably relate to it as much as I did. The chorus sings “The older I get, the more that I see/ My parents aren’t heroes, they’re just like me/ And loving is hard, it don’t always work/ You just try your best not to get hurt.” It’s really a beautiful song.
At one point, Sloan encouraged the crowd to sing along with her. “If you guys know the words to this shit, please sing with me cuz I just realized I don’t really listen to my own music and the lyrics are really just coming to me last minute here so if you could help me out, that’d be great.” The crowd laughed and happily fulfilled her request, especially on songs with more upbeat tempos like Faking It and Version of Me. During the song Normal, Sloan held the mic out to the crowd and the audience took over singing for a full chorus. I imagine that moment- a room full of fans enthusiastically singing your song by heart- must have made one sad girl quite happy.
Sloan ended her set with the song Runaway, and that’s pretty much what she did as soon as the song ended. Fans stuck around for awhile, hoping for an encore but alas, there was none. Regardless, I was totally satisfied with the show. Sloan is a phenomenal talent. Her voice is flawless and she sounds just as good live as she does on her recordings. I’m excited to see what this year has in store for her.
Words and photos by Betsy Martinez