"Pretty Little Birds": SZA ft. Isaiah Rashad
Production: Scum, Carter Lang, Josef Leimberg
What is especially striking about ‘Pretty Little Birds’, and ‘CTRL’ as an album more generally, is the honesty with which SZA explores the themes of desire and self-perception. Likening herself to a bird in this particular track, she confesses that she’s ‘hit the window a few times’. However, she quickly goes on to suggest that there is beauty to be found in instances of failure, or ‘the spiral down’, seamlessly entangling moments of vulnerability and defiance. In addition to the echoes of her voice, soft drum beat and murmuring electronic tones, it is the poetic nature of SZA’s lyrics that give this song an almost hypnotic quality, leaving the listener hanging onto every bar. She later also directly invites women to relate to her lyrics, addressing ‘pretty little girls’ and using the word ‘we’ in the second chorus.
On top of the impressive production, it is this kind of reassurance, that we are not isolated in our emotions, which makes this song one I return to instinctively as a source of both empowerment and comfort even two years after its release.