Icelandic singer-songwriter, Sjana Rut, cracks open her wounds in Broken, a confronting deep dive into the assault she has endured.
Content Warning: This article contains references to sexual assault and abuse.
Sjana Rut: visionary both in her sonic mastery and storytelling. The Iceland-based artist revels in her LP, Broken, a collection of works centred around the trauma and experiences of sexual assault.
The album is part of a two-part saga, the first being on the weight carried as a victim of sexual assault in Broken, and the second part bursting in a roaring sense of strength and self-awareness in Unbreakable, set for release early next year.
Broken is outrageously raw, vulnerable and fragile, glass shattering with each lyric as Sjana confronts the traumatic events that took place and the enduring pain that has lingered in the years following. Broken pulls apart every gut-wrenching and undeniable emotion of a victim coming to terms with the ongoing trauma of sexual assault.
From the outset, Sjana shines a light on the darkest corners of the mind; “hiding in the shadows/ but you think she knows/ the people in her life/ but she’s in for a surprise”. The angelic tone of Sjana’s vocals spikes the nerves as she pulls apart her lingering nightmares in a swirl of dark cinematic strings and Bloody Waters.
Every speckle of Broken rips through the boundaries of music and catharsis – “every-time you touch me I can’t breathe/ I just want you to leave/ I feel uneasy”.
It is clear that Broken is a an extension of Sjana, trickling through the vivid imagery and weight of being abused by a close family member and later, herself and her brother abused by a man working for child services. After a revolving door of failed legal attempts to bring the perpetrator to justice, failed by a system that had allowed the now-convicted felon to continue working with children when multiple lawsuits went “missing”, there is a concrete weight of the dark tones within Broken.
The title tune, Broken, steps on a particularly raw vein, with an intricate ripple of harmonies as the lyrics echo; “you can’t get back what you’ve stolen, because the day you stole my life, I was broken”, grieving an innocence that has been lost.
The poetically vivid lyrics continue to rattle; “The shame got stuck to me/it forced on my shoulders/ and I had to carry with me the sin of another”, bleeding a pain that consumes the sound waves and emotions that grip tightly long after the track ends.
Sjana explains the visual imagery and colour that melts with each song; “I create a painting for each song on the album, the Broken cover shows my wings turned to ashes and the rest of me is losing what colour it has left – I’m broken and bruised – which symbolises the first half of the album”.
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Each track pours liquid gold into the scars and lingering trauma of what the artist has endured as she delivers a vivid storm into the dark and ongoing journey experienced by victims of sexual assault.
If you have been, or think you may have been sexually assaulted and don’t feel safe, call triple zero (000) or reach out to a helpline/support organisation.
Step into Sjana’s LP, Broken, below: