Hometown: Auckland, New Zealand
Listen to: ‘Water Overhead’, ‘Crazy’, ‘Better LIfe’
When Evan Sinton auditioned for New Zealand’s Got Talent with an acoustic guitar, floppy heart-throb hair and a cover of The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird’, it was clear he had a bucketload of talent. But it’s safe to say he’s now a million miles from the classic style of music he brought to the talent show seven years ago. As Maala, his electro-pop alias armed with clean vocals and simple-but-effective aesthetics, Sinton’s music has truly come into its own in 2020. It’s time he got some attention on this side of the planet.
Speaking of his relatively new persona, Maala said to NZMusician: “I got bored of doing the acoustic guitar thing. I felt limited by it, so I just started trying stuff out, until something sorta clicked and I felt more of a rhythm – that was Maala.” From 2017’s ‘Crazy’ where a somewhat monotonous ‘crazy’ is spoken throughout (it works better than I can explain), to the immersive ‘Crashing’ on his new record, Maala’s sound couldn’t be further from boring.
Maala’s rich vocals are striking and emotional, but hard to pin down.
His lyrics may often focus on relationships, but they’re free of cliches. “Soft singing life / You painted all on me / Wearing your best,” he sings in ‘Better Life’. And in his most commercially successful song yet, ‘Touch’, he sings “How did it all change when I felt your old touch? / Boys and blurred shark / Unravelled, ignited / Held down, eyes shut”. He perfectly toes the line to be sentimental without being cringy.
Maala’s recently released his sophomore album, Water Overhead, in July this year. The titular track is probably his strongest song yet, but the nine songs comprising the record confirm his status as one of the most exciting artists right now. 2016’s Composure may have laid the foundations of Maala’s distinctive sound with standout songs ‘Lose Your Love’ and ‘Soak’, but Water Overhead raises the bar and gives him an identity that will surely give him success worldwide.
Words by Kat Smith