By Samuel Stevens
Release Date: August 6, 2020
Label: Atlantic Records
The Moroccan-Canadian singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Faouzia (pronounced FOH-ZE-UH) has released her first ever collection of music, Stripped. A compilation EP of intimate, stripped down versions of her past singles that were shed down to their bare essence. The EP collects new and refreshing takes of her fan favourite singles “How It All Works Out,” “Bad Dreams,” “Tears of Gold,” “You Don’t Even Know Me,” “Born Without A Heart,” and the brand new track, “100 Bandaids.” Some of the stripped down versions of the tracks have been previously released prior, but a few are brand new to the EP. All the tracks on Stripped were self-produced by Faouzia herself, except for “100 Bandaids,” which instead was produced by Jordan Waters.
Over the last five years Faouzia has seen a lot of success and has won multiple songwriting awards in various competitions starting at Festival du Voyageur’s La Chicane Éléctrique in 2015. Which then saw Faouzia receive wins from Canada’s Walk of Fame RBC Emerging Artist Program, the Nashville Unsigned Only music competition, and lastly a historic win at the International Songwriting Competition. At the 2017 International Songwriting Competition, herself and fellow Manitoban singer-songwriter Matt Epp entered their single, “The Sound,” and became the first two Canadian’s in the sixteen-year history to win the competition, seeing the two of them beat out over sixteen thousand other entries from one hundred thirty-seven different countries.
Continuing on her already storied career, specifically over the last three years Faouzia has landed a few major features with David Guetta in 2018 on his track, “Battle.” While in 2019 was featured on french rapper Ninho’s track, “Money.” However earlier this year she was featured on, “I Dare You (كنتحداك)” a duet with Kelly Clarkson. Which was part of a five track EP of multi-language duets, put together by Clarkson herself. Faouzia shines on the anthem in Arabic, one of the three languages (English, Arabic, and French) she is fluent in. She was featured on the original soundtrack Scoob! The Album with a feature with the DJ duo Galantis on the track, “I Fly.” Lastly, Faouzia enlisted DJs Goldhouse (Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish) and Owen Norton (Selena Gomez, Jason Derulo, Daya) for remixes of her single “Tears of Gold.
There are quite the differences in a majority of the songs on Stripped and that begins with the track, “How It All Works Out.” Five of the six tracks stripped down to just piano and Faouzia’s voice, resulting in her wide vocal range, her vibrato, and her powerful, exhilarating, and yet so haunting voice continuing to shine and captivate listeners on Stripped. There are certainly some twists and turns along the way from the original versions of the songs to the acoustic versions on the EP, and they’re more than evident on the initial listen. “Tears of Gold” is originally a pop anthem for the ages, but the Stripped version of the track becomes a powerful, but somber pop ballad that Faouzia really conveys the true emotion of the song through her voice. Setting itself out from the rest, “Born Without a Heart” is a piece featuring a string section and a clean driven guitar that backs Faouzia’s electric voice.
The two tracks, “Bad Dreams” and “100 Bandaids,” are the only versions of the songs to be ever released for Faouzia’s listeners. I’m sure one day soon when the time is right, the opposite versions will be unleashed upon the world. Accompanying the release of Stripped, Faouzia performed the EP in its entirety at Winnipeg’s own, Burton Cummings Theatre. Which can be watched in the video above. At just twenty years old, a handful of singles, and now an acoustic EP, Faouzia has cemented her name as one of the biggest up and comers within the pop music scene. With every aspect of Faouzia’s voice, it will leave you with chills running down your spine with every listen.