“I always wrote songs just for myself. I did it for fun, I didn’t think anyone would notice,” explains Nashville’s Sophie Allison aka Soccer Mommy about her music. After listening to her debut album Clean, it’s clear she’s an artist afflicted with false modesty, as the record showcases her impressive talent for crafting affecting, emotional indie tunes.
Released via Fat Possum Records, Allison teamed up with a full band and producer Gabe Wax (War On Drugs, Deerhunter, Beirut) to curate this new collection of poignant songs, all of which were mixed by Ali Chant (Perfume Genius, PJ Harvey). The result is the “cohesive” record she was looking for, a “piece” of her life that addresses “similar themes” and comes together as a whole. These themes include love, lust, uncertainty, self-doubt and Allison’s trademark “soft anger”.
The tentative ‘Still Clean’ opens the record, with her gentle, clear voice lamenting the bittersweet pain of drowning in the water after a lover has washed her from his “bloody teeth.” Second track ‘Cool’ – which Allison says “comes from a place of insecurity and idealization” – is polished and uplifting in its delivery. She has a gift for transforming frustration and insecurity into upbeat gems through her laid-back vocals and melodic guitar riffs.
‘Your Dog’ is another sublime example of this. Her frank admission of “I don’t wanna be your fucking dog” is a cathartic, emotional uprising against neglect that seethes and soothes in equal measure. On ‘Flaw’, Allison documents a loss of romantic faith, but she finds a quiet confidence again on following track ‘Blossom (Wasting All My Time)’. The song’s content will strike a painfully familiar chord with those carefully breaking out of their caged heart, taking tentative steps towards a new love.
Much like ‘Cool’, ‘Last Girl’ is an upbeat take on insecurity and a wish to have the “everything” that other girls seem to have. ‘Skin’ is a smoldering assertion of lust – “Back in the alleyway behind your Father’s home / I’m clawing at your skin, trying to feel your bones” – Allison’s urgency is palpable here, but so is her fear on following track ‘Scorpio Rising’. The hopeful opening lyrics are unraveled by her poignant image of being overlooked – “She’s lovely and sweet like coca cola / I watch from my drink as you look her over”. Her loves are unsustainable sugar rushes, but she longs for longevity and sincerity.
‘Interlude’ brings some brief respite from Allison’s exquisite negativity. It’s a reverb-strewn instrumental that leads in to closing track ‘Wildflowers’, exploring the depths of her “grey and shriveled” heart. Even when she sings of her emotional fragility on Clean, Soccer Mommy’s skewed self perception is raw, honest and remarkably strong. Definitely invest in this record if you like confessional, beautifully modest indie music.
Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez