Canadian singer-songwriter, producer, and mixing engineer Sarah Shafey releases her fourth album, Blackbox Universe, which blends elements of electronic, pop, and rock music into an homage celebrating women.

Co-produced, co-engineered, and co-mixed by Shafey and Hill Kourkoutis, the first female to win a JUNO Award in the Recording Engineer of the Year category, Hill has produced and played with Canada’s prominent artists, such as The Weeknd, July Talk, Serena Ryder, Madison Violet, SATE, Good Lovelies, Dear Rouge, and Adam Cohen.

Mastered by Kristian Montano of Montano Mastering, the album features the talents of Sekou Lumumba (drums), Michael Peter Olsen (cello), and Miike Celia (guitar).

On Blackbox Universe, Shafey examines different versions of herself. She explains, “We all have different versions of ourselves, so I felt the need to explore who they were. Some of it was a shedding of skin that I don’t want anymore, and other elements are more closely aligned with who I am now and want to be more like.”

While mixing albums for bands of all genres in her studio Squeaky Clean Records, Shafey’s own sound evolved from folk-pop to grimy shoegaze to her present sound, one merging electro-pop with hints of alt-rock.

Blackbox Universe embraces 10-tracks, beginning with “Competitor,” travelling on humming synths, followed by segueing into a tasty electro-pop melody topped by Shafey’s deliciously futuristic-flavoured vocals, giving the lyrics logarithmic textures.

Entry points on the album include “Sticks and Stones,” with its pulsating rhythm and kaleidoscopic pop savours. Vaguely reminiscent of Madonna, the tune delivers a modernized feel and flow. Opening on dark tones, “Back to the Night” allows Shafey to parade her luscious vocal range, from low and femme fatale to translucent and beguiling. The magnetic syncopated pulse of the song imbues it with a nastily throbbing cadence.

Sarah Shafey

“Caught out the Door” reveals heavy washes of guitars riding rumbling percussion as Shafey’s vocals, smooth yet exuding a dangerous nuance, infuse the lyrics with plush, portentous timbres. A personal favourite because of its Alan Parsons-like movement, “This Is My Throne” features captivating, softly evocative harmonies.

The title track closes out the album, unveiling a slow, languid motion topped by Shafey’s dreamy voice. As the cello enters, the tune gathers resonance and an innate sensuous aspect, enhanced by lush, opulent layers of vocal harmonies.

Characterized by scrummy suffusions of lustrous electro-pop and the crème de la crème voice of Sarah Shafey, Blackbox Universe is a gem of an album.

Blackbox Universe Track Listing:

1. Competitor
2. Sticks and Stones
3. Pick Up the Phone
4. Back to the Night
5. Queen of Oceans
6. Fallen Angels
7. Caught out the Door
8. This Is My Throne
9. My Favourite Walk
10. Blackbox Universe

Run Time: 39:45
Release Date: September 23, 2022
Record Label: Self-Release