‘Americana folk with Swedish roots’ is a neat marketing line. A little too neat if you ask me.
I confess to some cynicism here but, to my eyes and ears, Sophia Talvik (pronounced ‘tull-week’) plays a little too obviously on the novelty value of North Sea Siren channelling an (Alt?) country spirit to embrace an all-American genre.
Her angelic vocals coo pleasantly enough against a tasteful backing of acoustic and pedal steel guitar but the sweetness gets a little too sickly as the songs tend to blur into one another.
The album is likened to a picture book but, if so, it is one where the enchanted forest has all the nasty monsters painted over.
Most darker reflections are avoided or are unwittingly addressed. In California Snow she says of her lover: “you’re my ball and chain, my sunshine through the rain” which I guess is meant to be complimentary although the second of these sounds a healthier state than the former.
The final two tracks leave a glimmer of hope that this line was intentionally ambiguous and that there is, after all, some Nordic Noir lurking beneath the brightly colored surface.
I Liked You Better hints at another side of Talvik which is not all about blue-sky thinking. In this, she makes catty observations about an ex boyfriend’s latest flame (“she can count to ten but that’s it I bet”).
This is followed by Die Alone in which she reflects on the fate (death!) that she, and everybody else, has to come to terms with.
These uncontrived slices of bitchiness and melancholy provides some contrast to pervading mood of the album but not enough to give it the edge it so sorely needs.
Sofia Talvik’s website