Track review: Beckah Amani – Standards

Wow. It’s difficult to know where to begin with Beckah Amani’s Standards. Do I talk first about the beautiful sparse production, the measured guitar playing, her exquisite vocal performance, or the lyrics that cut straight to the heart of the conversation about race, racism, and white privilege?

Well, I’ll start with the latter. Written at the height of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, Standards chronicles Amani’s own experience growing up black – an “immigrant kid” – in a white society (I should probably mention that Amani is an independent singer-songwriter from Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia). Wrapped up in an elastic melody and understated folk guitar, she explores how people of colour often find themselves having to “lower their standards” by changing their personality, and denying expression of their heritage and culture in order to fit in with society.

The lyrics are, in a word, extraordinary – as is the vocal itself. Writing as a white male in my mid-30s, I can’t begin to imagine carrying around the feeling that I would need to change every aspect of myself in order to make others feel better. To make other people comfortable. To work just to make myself approachable, so that I can have a chance at the same basic opportunities that other people have. I can’t imagine having to think, let alone sing out loud the lines “My skin bleeds red like every other human / But this dark shade makes me frightening / An easy target”.

Standards is a phenomenal track. I could sit here and yammer on about it for ages, but really you’d be better off just hitting that play button below. There’s not much I can add to this discussion. All I can say is I haven’t heard anything that’s hit me quite like this for a long time. I suspect you’ll feel the same.


You can find Beckah Amani on Instagram and Facebook.

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