Release Date: Jun 2, 2015
Record label: Rough Trade
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Many songs on ‘Before We Forgot How To Dream’ are already radio staples and fan favourites. The majority of Soak’s two EPs ‘Blud’ and ‘Sea Creatures‘ are present and as spine-tingling as ever, and call-to-isolation ‘B A Nobody’ is here, too, along with its b-side ‘Shuvels’. There’s also plenty of older material that we haven’t heard before, taken from a crammed trunk of songs that Bridie Monds-Watson has been gradually stacking high since she turned thirteen, and picked up a guitar for the first time.
Irish teen Bridie Monds-Watson took the name Soak to stand for a combination of soul and folk, which she says describes her distinctive musical style. The description may be accurate on a certain level, but it also misleads. The soul of her expression comes from the depth from which it emerges, but one would never connect it to what is normally considered soul music.
Songwriters have long chronicled life on the teen frontlines, from Bob Dylan and Neil Young to Jamie T and Laura Marling. This accomplished and eloquent debut from Northern Irish 18-year-old Bridie Monds-Watson, aka Soak, stakes her claim to be what Girls’ Lena Dunham might call either the voice of her generation, or at least a voice, of a generation. From the Beach House-influenced ‘B a noBody’ to the rushing Cat Power pop of ‘Hailstones Don’t Hurt’, there is beauty and wisdom in Soak’s music.
?Derry-born Bridie Monds-Watson is the teenage talent behind the project SOAK. Despite, or perhaps because of her youthful outlook, Before We Forgot How To Dream is an insightful look into her soulful disposition and a Narcissusian caution for the rest of us elderly sceptics. Comparisons ranging from Cat Power to Daughter lay the groundwork for understanding SOAK’s melting pot of heartfelt passion, melancholia and sparks of triumphalism.
Irish singer and songwriter SOAK begins her debut album with the words "A teenage heart/Is an unguided dart," and she ought to know -- SOAK (real name Bridie Monds-Watson) was just 18 years old when Before We Forgot How to Dream was released. And it's not especially hard to guess her age while listening to these songs: SOAK sounds and writes like a teenager, in the best of all possible ways, full of confidence that wrestles with a certain natural hesitance, and not the least bit afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve. SOAK's lyrical approach sometimes borders on melodrama, but it's an honest, thoroughly genuine melodrama that speaks of a time in life when so many moments seem like they're a matter of life and death.
When you're young and shy, you have to get creative in order to get your thoughts out into the world. In the case of a 13-year-old Irish artist named SOAK (born Bridie Monds-Watson), the answer was songwriting. Monds-Watson's debut album, Before We Forgot How To Dream, is a portrait of adolescence documenting her growth between the ages of 13 and 18 (she recently celebrated her 19th birthday), but this is no mere diary entry.
"The teenage heart is an unguided dart," sings the 18-year-old Irish singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson in the first line of the first album she's released as SOAK. "We're trying hard to make something of what we are." It's both an introductory passage to Before We Forgot How to Dream and a mission statement for the work. Throughout the LP, SOAK revels in her own uncertainty, basking in the openness of her future.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. From my experience it normally takes about 9 months for someone to be an overnight sensation. Having discovered the 18-year-old Londonderry native singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK, with the release of her debut single 'B a noBody' last September (ages before it was played on Radio 1 but who's keeping score?) I have tracked her musical career with a keen eye.
In 2013, Soak appeared in this newspaper sounding refreshingly secure for a 16-year-old in the limelight. Two years on, Bridie Monds-Watson’s debut album sounds as unassuming yet self-assured as the Derry singer-songwriter herself. While she often muses on teenagedom, it’s with the wisdom and restraint of someone older: her delicate, cracking voice recalls that of Julia Stone and makes for a softly heartfelt record.
Soak, AKA Bridie Monds-Watson, first started writing material for this album before she could legally drink alcohol; there is a certain amount of teenage hand-wringing here, but some other less wide-eyed insight, too. It’s a debut that shows potential, but falls just short of the songwriting spark hinted at on her second EP, 2012’s Sea Creatures. The Derry singer’s cocooning, husky voice sounds as delicately expressive as always, creaking on the single Blud – about overhearing her parents arguing with an ear pressed to her bedroom floorboards – and Hailstones Don’t Hurt.
After some brief, atmospheric tone-setting, 19-year-old Bridie Monds-Watson eases into the song B A NoBody, a stunning slow burn of sparkling guitars and shimmery cymbals awash in reverb. It's a hell of a way to start her debut album under the SOAK moniker. The song's instantly memorable chorus is as substantial as it is stylish. The record is filled with songs that don't sacrifice one for the other, which isn't surprising given the Irish teenager was the first signee to CHVRCHES new label last year, a band that maintains the same balance.
With her high, shaky, scratchy voice, her quiet guitar picking and her thick Northern Ireland accent, Soak — a 19-year-old songwriter from Londonderry named Bridie Monds-Watson — sounds shy and gawky, as if it takes all her nerve to get through a song. On her debut album, “Before We Forgot How to Dream,” she defines herself modestly: “C’mon, c’mon, be just like me/ Be a nobody.” But there’s no diffidence in the songs themselves. Soak exposes longings, fears, traumas and resolve — sometimes elliptically, sometimes with disarming bluntness.