dinsdag 19 april 2016

As We Make Our Own Way (Unknown Harbours). Sophia

It's years ago that I heard music by Sophia, as Robin Proper-Sheppard calls his vehicle to let his music loose on the world. Somewhere in the mid 00s I bought a cd called 'People Are Like Seasons', which I liked a lot. The mix of the soft, somewhat brooding songs with few loud, certainly brooding, songs worked a miracle. After that I seem to have lost sight (hearing to be more exact) of Sophia. With As We Make Our Own Way something like twelve years down life's path we are reconnected after having missed two albums from which the last one is of 2009.

Despite the more than one decade, my appreciation of Proper-Sheppard's music has not changed a lot. Neither has his approach to his songs. Although this album is more of a band setting and the louder songs prevail, the mood is instantly recognisable. This could be perceived as something negative, but it isn't. Perhaps because twelve years is a long time and I might have written something different if this was the sixth album or so since then, but I tend more towards that the songs are simply good.

Let me start with the most elementary song, 'Baby Hold On', which is the one before last on the album. A voice, a beautifully sounding acoustic steel-snared guitar, light drums and later on an organ. Robin Proper-Sheppard does not need more to implore his baby to hang on in there. The element making it great is that he is just asking in a slightly resigned way, not sitting desperately on his knees. "I'm trying to get home", is the message. The music says it for him. A spot on song. No more brooding in 'Baby Hold On'.

And then the final song, 'It's Easy To Be Lonely' still has to come. The lonesome piano notes do all the work here for Sophia.  And here I sit thinking that 'Baby Hold On' was the price winning song on As We Make Our Own Way. Well, do I have news. 'It's Easy To Be Lonely' slowly builds up into an epic song, with a whole orchestra of sounds coming up behind the band. Horns and strings are all there bringing the song and the album to an extremely satisfying climax.

As We Make Our Own Way starts out small as well. A piano is played lightly with bass notes drawing out a counter melody. 'Unknown Harbours' is an instrumental presaging the album which really bursts loose with 'Resisting'. Sophia goes all out in the intro of the song. As a monolith the band sounds here, after which it all drops away when Proper-Sheppard starts singing. Coldplay the older way, think its second album, is a description of the intro and the chorus. It shows the contrasts within which Sophia operates. From dreamy ballads to full out rock and all extremely convincing.

Sophia manages to keep this level up throughout the album. The softer touches contrast in a brilliant way with the loud variety of the band, almost a Jeckell and Hyde this Sophia is. The difference with the aforementioned band is, that As We Make Our Own Way is so much more organic sounding that there is almost no comparison. It may have taken Sophia seven years to come up with a new album, it is an album that is easily one of the better that I have heard in 2016. One of the great releases and noted in pencil for the end of year list.


You can listen to 'Resisting' here:


or buy on Bol.Com:

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