Release Date: Feb 27, 2012
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Indie Rock
Just in case her work with Cliffie Swan wasn't enough of a love letter to '70s and '80s pop, Sophia Knapp's solo debut Into the Waves confirms she truly is a throwback. Knapp envisioned these songs as a "modern vocal pop album," and in some ways that's true, even though the territory into which she plunges here is almost shockingly polished, mellow, and sweet compared to almost anything recorded by her contemporaries. Rather, Into the Waves sounds like something Stevie Nicks or Olivia Newton-John would record if they were transported from their heydays into the indie sphere of the 2010s.
I can’t imagine what the emotional struggle is like for newer artists under the realization that they’ve been compared to musical gurus. When Sophia Knapp was settling into her polished psychedelic-pop compilation, Into the Waves, was she ready for the torrential downpour of links to icons like Stevie Nicks, Olivia Newton John, Nancy Sinatra or Françoise Hardy? I think I would puke. Hopefully she has a stronger stomach.
"Way too many things happened last year, too much cake, too much wine," Sophia Knapp opines on "Glasses High", the opening cut from her solo debut, Into the Waves. Like most thinking adults, Knapp is preoccupied with the passage of time, with the proper ordering of a life: in a cottony whisper, she laments the way memories dissipate, how love wilts. "It's so hard to tell just how to make the good things last," she coos on the title track.
Frozen in time for over a year now, a crowdfunding page used by Sophia Knapp to help produce her debut solo LP is full of interesting insights. Besides listing supportive friends and family, the page entices contributors to donate $200 or more and receive a “tarot reading by Sophia in person or on the phone depending on location.” Although, sadly, no-one took advantage of that opportunity, the funding target was nonetheless reached, and Knapp’s flair for the magical has impacted strongly on the resultant album. Although softer and more personal than Knapp’s work with Brooklyn outfit Lights (or Cliffie Swan, as they are now known), Into the Waves is just as dreamy and thoughtful.
It wouldn’t really be fair to say that Sophia Knapp is a reed that knows to bend with the wind, especially when in the scheme of things we talk only of the gentlest breeze. All the same, in her brief recording career so far the Brooklyn singer-songwriter has found herself just the right side of shifting microtrends – initially as part of a duo, now solo for the first time. You might have encountered Knapp as one half of Lights, who had their 2008 debut LP released by Twisted Nerve in the UK.