There comes a time in your life when you have to face up to your fear of younger people born in later decades who are all grown up, a prodigious talent maturing with them. It’s a terror I’m trying to face right now – and let’s face it, 19 year old Bridie Monds-Watson (aka SOAK) is not helping.
Especially when, according to my calculations, she was probably born in 1995. So why is age such a factor? Well, when faced with such an accomplished debut as Before We Forgot How to Dream, it slightly meddles with the mind. As I listen to it, my brain subconciously mines it for influences, seeking where SOAK’s musical education has emerged from. ‘Sea Creatures’, the radio behemoth of a single that’s dominated Radio 1’s playlist (yes, I confess I’m a regular listener) always reminds me of Camera Obscura’s ‘French Navy’. Meanwhile, the prominent rhythms of ‘Garden’ (a personal favourite) makes me think of a slowed down ‘Superconnected’ by Broken Social Scene. It’s like someone dived into my iPod, which is stuffed with Beach House and Kirsty MacColl records, and whipped up something tailor made to my tastes.
These references are not to take away from the creativity and sheer beauty of the record – instead it shows an ingenue performer who has done their homework. Layer upon layer of vocals, acoustic guitar and piano have been lovingly put together to create an introspective landscape of sound. It’s not melodramatic, but thoughtful; ‘We’re trying hard to make something of what we are’ she sings of being a teenager seeking an identity; ‘Be just like me/Be a nobody’. And yet this song, ‘B a noBody’, is the dreamy philosophy that is likely to project her further than she ever imagined – with a confident identity that couldn’t sound clearer.
Words: Frankie Ward