Despite the beautiful scenery, Alaska is mostly known for Sarah Palin, Ice Road Truckers, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Currently, the whole state is on fire, not one fan or a/c unit can be found for sale, and our governor has some sort of personal vendetta against the entire education system. Alaska’s best hope for anything positive to happen this year is probably Sophia Street.
Already the artist responsible for my pick as the best full-length album to come out of Alaska this decade (2016’s Black & White), Sophia has returned to the studio and the first byproduct of those efforts has been released. Working with engineering superstar James Glaves (mixing, mastering, drums), Heather Weather is a single meant to take its place in a forthcoming EP, and I am quite excited for that.
In the meantime, I have been playing this on perpetual repeat for the past week – because that’s when it came out – and it’s pretty sticky. The five-minute number is an immersive experience, dropping the listener into liquid that seeps into the soul. Its moody atmosphere is beautiful and dark. A specific genre is tough to nail down. The first comparison that feels somewhat appropriate is the Vikings T.V. show theme. (If I Had a Heart, by Fever Ray.)
Sophia is an excellent young songwriter with a gift for imagery. Her goal for this project was “unfiltered emotion” and I believe she succeeded. This is not the fluffy summertime pop most of you are probably listening to.
I am the heather weather
Breaking point self centered
Creature habit emptiness
How have I become this
Fighting demons deeper darkness
In the abottoir
People look up at the sky
Thinking you would be a star
The long Alaska winters are similar to Iceland’s, and there are some commonalities to be found with their local music scenes. This isn’t emo music, with its bipolar, quiet/loud dynamics. This song is all tension without release, building slowly to a medium boil, and then staying there. It hovers above you like the northern lights, gorgeously dancing and haunting your dreams.
I cannot help but wonder if Sophia Street could be the next Alaskan artist to follow Portugal. The Man to international acclaim, and I don’t see any reason why she shouldn’t. This is not just another pretty face with a golden voice; she has actual musical talent. Besides that, she’s a smoking, drinking, swearing oilfield worker who operates heavy machinery above the Arctic Circle, spending her off-time days waist-deep in a river, competing with grizzly bears for salmon and trout. Suffice to say, in a fight to the death, nobody in their right mind would bet on Taylor Swift.