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Songs We Love: Camille Safiya, 'Indigo'

If a street performer sings on the subway, will anyone stop to hear her song? Camille Safiya is hopeful that someone, somewhere, will.

Safiya, a singer and songwriter from Teaneck, N.J., isn't afraid to put herself out there. In the video for "Indigo," the title track of her new EP, she places herself in the shoes of a busker in New York City. A minute into the video, she asks the age-old question about trees and forests and silence and sounds — but unironically, as a means to pose a bigger question about awareness of ourselves and those around us.

/ Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist

Down in the very real subway station of Norwood - 205 Street, we see the true-to-life expressions of the distracted, the impatient and the indifferent as they play the waiting game. Once they board the train, Safiya begins singing and the video instantly becomes a depiction of an alternate universe — not in a dramatic visual sense, but in the way the subway riders respond to her. (If you want to see a more realistic reaction, revisit this video of Grammy-winning singer Brandy in the very same situation last summer.)

Throughout the song, Safiya's voice settles delicately in the ether, calling to mind other new voices — like KING, Courtnie and OSHUN —who hope to take R&B back to the basics. While it sounds like Safiya must have been working in a stripped-down setting since her start, her EP Indigo marks a stark departure of sound and subject from her previous offerings. Last year's 24K was aggressively audacious and focused more on hard-hitting production than on heartfelt vocals. Indigo, composed with musician Spencer Crowe, is the complete opposite of that. Clocking in at just under 11 minutes and focused on concepts of self-fulfillment that would have made Bob Marley proud, it serves as a gentle reminder to slow down and listen. With just Crowe's guitar as accompaniment, Safiya makes sure that her voice takes center stage this time around.

Indigo is out now via LMNT Music. You can stream it below.

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Kiana Fitzgerald is a freelance music journalist, cultural critic, and DJ. She writes for the world from deep in the heart of Texas.
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