(updated 08 October 2010) Musical Discoveries reviewed Sofia's Jonestown (2008) album as well as her followup EP entitled Strawberries on My Tongue in 2009. An interview with the Swedish singer songwriter was also published here in 2008. Sofia's latest full length album Florida (Makaki Music (Sweden), WOR-CD-1010, 2010) was released earlier this year simultaneously with an acoustic version of the album. The artist's lineup have done an outstanding job with supporting arrangements. The guitar work is extremely notable.
Sofia Talvik's earlier releases Blue Moon (2005) and Street of Dreams (2007) as well as remix version of Street of Dreams received broad critical acclaim by the music press. Talvik's earlier albums Rock of MQ (2005), Jeans & Cover (2005) and Jeans & Summer (2003) are less well known away from Sweden. Sofia has also released four singles and lists two further demos in her discography. Her label Makaki Music is said to be the "hardest working indie label in the world." Sofia is also a prolific FaceBook communicator.
Florida is a ten track collection of accessible tunes with a running time of just over 33 minutes. The acoustic version of the album is comprised of the same tracks and--as one might expect from the title--are arranged differently. Fronted by Sofia's stunning vocal work acoustic has the simplest acoustic guitar arrangements. The two releases together make an extremely nice double album addition to any female vocals enthusiast's record collection.
Sofia traveled across the United States over a two year period building the foundation for Florida. Some have said that the album is very much a travelogue from this period. Arrangements on Florida are rich but not overpowering. It has a folky Americana style. Listeners are sure to pick out the various guitars and note the horn and woodwind-sounding passages beneath Sofia's glistening vocal work.
Florida, with its overall Americana feel, is comprised of mostly upbeat singer songwriter tracks although there are a couple of bluesy numbers and ballads as well. The album comes right out of the chute with the richly arranged "King Of The Willow Tree." But the instrumental arrangement quickly takes a back seat when the singer's lead vocal line soars to the top of her range of the bluesy passage. A warm chorus featuring the artist's vocal layers perfectly offsets the lead.
The title track is an upbeat singer songwriter style track with robust country-style electric guitar. The memorable chorus is wonderfully supported by vast vocal harmonies. Listeners will immediately note the contrasts within this song; at times it almost sounds like Sofia is singing a capella and at others she is leading an audience full of Sofias singing right along with her. The horn passages add great texture as well. "As We Catch On Fire" is the album's first ballad. Tenderly delivered atop acoustic and electric guitar, Sofia's lead and backing vocals are perfectly produced.
"In The Eye Of The Storm" is the album's first standout. The crystalline texture of Sofia Talvik's voice punches right through the light electronic arrangement, especially in the stunning and richly orchestrated chorus. The bluesy yet upbeat track "You Plate Your Heart With Gold" is wonderfully arranged with Sofia's vocal layers adding a lovely texture to the overall sound.
The artist's tribute to the Americana style is everso evident in the arrangements of the upbeat ballad "More Than I Should Have." Twangy guitars are perfectly joined with strings and percussion elements with Sofia's multi-layered vocal work. As if to bookend the former track, string and guitar work in "Paper House" are in a similar style, however here Sofia's stunning lead is joined in a duet with a male vocalist.
"The Light" is another album standout. Backed by woodwinds, keyboard and gentle guitar, Sofia's evocative vocal lead carries the lovely ballad. The electric guitar part binds the track with the rest of Florida. "You Bring Me Back" has a wonderfully produced vocal recording pushing Sofia's sensual voice well atop the Americana-styled arrangement. The album concludes with the down-tempo ballad "Maybe Then Will Be When." Listeners will be drawn into the track's lovely arrangement featuring horns, rich percussion and standup bass. Sofia's heartfelt vocal lead and additional layers tenderly deliver the lyrical message.
While both versions are stunning, the acoustic version of the album is, as one would expect, significantly stripped back with the artist's vocal work atop simple, crisp and unabashed acoustic guitar arrangements. Both of the albums are available at amazon and other online retailers worldwide.
Florida is indeed a tribute and a testament of Sofia's incredible vocal prowess. Listen to both versions with headphones. The production is superb! While the songs may sound somewhat less accessible on the acoustic version, listeners that seek stunning female vocal work will adore both versions of the album.