Sofia Talvik: Paws of a Bear

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Now, I fully admit that here at Spirit we have a really eclectic bunch of writers and tastes, and don’t mind sharing our different thoughts and opinions, so I was really intrigued to be approached to review this, the latest album by Swedish singer/song-writer Sofia Talvik.

This year some of the strongest albums (Rise, Kentish Spires etc) have been led by powerful female performers, and so, as a sucker for the confessional female singer songwriter, I said yes, of course.

Having never heard anything of (or by) Sofia, I did a bit of googling (other search engines are availble) and it turns out that Sofia has collaborated with Bernard Butler, toured the States, played SXSW & Lollapalooza and opened for David Duchovny and Maria McKee, and has been touring and promoting her unique brand of indie folk for over 10 years, as well as charting in the American folk charts.

As you can tell by the timings below, this isn’t a giant sprawling epic of a record that we’re maybe all used to, instead it’s a beautifully produced, intimate album, with a charm and passion all of it’s own, and is nothing like anything else I’ve heard this year.

The intimate sound of this album draws you in, and is reminiscent of the sound of other artists like Kate Rusby or Kathryn Williams who also operate in that late night, small folk club, almost confessional style of music.

The sparse and haunting Take me Homes opens the album, and the subtle guitar work that underpins the track allows Talviks beautiful clear vocals to shine, the quite, intimate sound of the record is perfect for late Winter nights, with the fire burning and the lights down low. Thrroughout the album, the understated sound of Tim Flemings pedal steel guitar adds haunting flourishes to the album, and the intricate melodies on tracks like Siren Song or Reflections (with it’s echo of Carole King Tapestry era songwriting) whilst the acoustic guitar and vocal work on the autobiographical California Snow is haunting and intense in it’s beauty.

Meanwhile the title track is an absolute masterpiece in the art of ‘less is more’ songwriting, where the spaces in the notes are as important as the notes, that’s what this album conjures up for me, the paradox of wide open spaces, and the intimacy that makes me feel that Talvik is singing purely to me.

Blood Moon meanwhile has some fantatstic guitar work, an is a big wide screen Americana song, with some heartfelt lyrics and gorgeous pedal steel moments that rip through your heart straight through to your soul. The intricate finger picking and philosophical lyrics of Die Alone close an album that is full of heart, soul, journeys and stories, and one that is chock full of beauty.

This album is a masterpiece in songwriting and production, where the hauntingly beautiful voice, and the intimately warm songs of Talvik wrap you in their musical warmth, and Sonia Talvik is a rare talent, and this is a completely lovely record, In other words, yes, I absolutely love this.

Track Listing

1) Take Me Home 4:06

2) Siren Song 3:41

3) California Snow 3:00

4) Reflections 4:52

5) paws of a Bear 3:40

6) Pharoahs and Friends 3:32

7) Blood Moon 3:27

8) Wrapped in paper 3:21

9) I Liked You Better 3:29

10) Die Alone 3:58

All songs written by Sofia Talvik

Sofia Talvik: Acoustic guitar, piano & vocals

Tim Fleming: Pedal steel, dobro & trumpet

Marcus Hoquist: Acoustic guitar

Janne Manninen: Bass

Joakim Lundgren: Drums & Percussion

Produced by Sofia Talvik

Released on 27th September 2019 on Makaki Music

https://music.sofiatalvik.com

Paws of a Bear – It’s here!

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