Track Of The Day: Half Waif – ‘Sodium & Cigarettes’

Sodium & Cigarettes’ is the latest single from Half Waif’s forthcoming album Mythopoetics, set for release next month.

Half Waif is the creation of New York based artist Nandi Rose whose ethereal vocals sail somewhere in the gap between Phoebe Bridgers, Kate Bush, and Sinead O’Connor. Producer Zubin Hensler makes the most of her unique talent, stripping the production right back to its bare bones and allowing Rose’s voice to be the star of the show. Rose has commented that Mythopoetics is the album she has been trying to make for ten years: “My voice is changing, and my confidence has reached a point where I feel that I can sing however I want; I’ve finally come to a place where I don’t have to conform to what I think other people want it to sound like”. ‘Sodium & Cigarettes’ is an incredible showcase for her newfound confidence.

A simple solo piano accompanies Rose’s tenuous vocal through the opening verse as the lyrics ponder “Do I deserve what’s coming to me?”, but this is ultimately a song of hope. The vocal gathers in strength and resilience throughout as Rose declares in the chorus “okay, give it another day”, giving a sense of needing to take a breath before re-entering the fray – a sentiment which will no doubt be familiar to listeners exhausted by Trump-era politics, the pandemic, and an endlessly grim 24 hour news cycle. Rose implores the listener to keep looking to the future.

As the song progresses, gentle reverb-laden backing vocals swell in the background as if powering up to meet the challenge, sparse staccato synths pepper the final verses as if waking up, and the resonance of a church organ fills the delicate space beneath Rose’s vocal. The track ends with Rose challenging the listener – “Is it too late now to start running?” – her tenuous vocal taking on ever more strength and depth as she uses a vocal effect reminiscent of The Japanese House. 

‘Sodium & Cigarettes’ is a song of hope, a challenge to us all to re-energise and take up the fight, a subtle and gentle awakening in the face of exhaustion and malaise.

‘Sodium & Cigarettes’ is taken from Half Waif’s fourth album Mythopoetics, set for release on 9th July via ANTI-.

Kate Sullivan
@katesullo

Photo Credit:  Ali Cherkis

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