Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Sophia Knapp on Drag City
Sophia Knapp's solo debut single on Drag City stems from her full length work with Lights...sorry, Cliffie Swan in that she's still drawing on very classic songwriting from across genres. At times it reminds you of '70s Fleetwood Mac all the way to Beach House and the ethereal sound that they conjured out of a cloud of swirling melody.
The A-Side's title track, 'Nothing to Lose' features Sophia's high register layered vocal over quiet tremolo electric and organ? or synth. They're both so quiet weaving in and out of each other's melodies, at this low backup volume, their indistinguishable. Sophia has a ridiculous, natural voice and with no effects whatsoever it deserves to be front and center like this. I can't help but keep comparing this to Victoria Legrand's way of creating a melody independently from the instrumentation. They both aren't relying on anything to drive the vocal. They never echo a chord progression. Give Sophia the slightest strum of a chord, barely a hint at an organ hum and she continues right along with a focused distinct solo performance.
Smartly the instrumentation shows huge restraint and almost becomes psychedelic in it's meandering off on it's own, improvising within the bare melody and providing the skeleton for Sophia's talent. The understated foundation follows into the chorus, keeping this vaseline on the lens fog. To be honest, I'm not even unpacking the vocal content at all, still after a bunch of listens I get caught up in just listening to voice and what has to be a testament to this trance; I keep forgetting to really pay attention to her imagery.
The Side B is a remix by Caroline Polachek of Chairlift who emphasizes a more electronic slant, with a heavy wave bassline with more texture in the percussion hits but remaining focused on Sophia's breathy vocals. It's a natural collaboration, Chairlift's understated electronica and Sophia's powerful vocal. This remix squarely places it in a contemporary place, the psyche and '70s making way for the fade of an envelope filter.
Get it from the great Drag City Records.