The notion of a soccer mommy conjures images of a 35-year-old woman with two kids and an SUV to ferry the kids to practice and games. Yet Sophie Allison is a 20-year-old on leave from NYU majoring in rock and roll. Her first studio-produced LP, Clean, has just been released and it shows that Allison made a good choice putting her formal education on hold.
Beginning with simple guitar strumming, Still Clean takes hold with Sophie’s voice, building through the chorus as she’s joined by a bracing electric guitar. At first sweet and gentle her voice becomes bolder as the song builds. “Through the winter I was shuddered in between my sheets, checked the window just to see if you’d come back to me.” As the truth of the situation becomes clear, the song backs off again to just Allison’s guitar.
The ringing electric guitars of Cool set up the aspiration of being the girl the boys dream about. “And you wait outside on her street, you sit for hours just to see the girl you pictured in a dream as the only girl.” The vision doesn’t always match up with the reality. This is never been more clear than in the song’s ending, falling apart like recording tape being stretched on the tape recorder to the breaking point.
There’s more proof on Your Dog. Allison clearly has become impatient with the situation, “I’m not a prop for you to use when you’re lonely or confused. I want a love that lets me breathe, I’ve been choking on your leash.” She’s not ready to be anybody’s pet. Wild Flowers seems to feature the same tape machine from Cool, only now it’s being turned on mid-song, as she sings, “I dreamt the sidewalk broke in two.”
Produced by Gabe Wax who also doubles on keyboards, bass and guitar, Allison’s band also features Julian Powell on lead guitar, and Nick Brown on drums. While the disc begins like her two previous efforts, the extra players give the material more room to breathe. The intimacy is still there, but this is a Rice Krispies recording with a snap, crackle, and pop missing from previous efforts. Electric touches make this disc bristle a bit more than perviously.
Fortified by studio production, Soccer Mommy’s Clean seems destined to be one more step on Sophie Allison’s journey from the bedroom to the studio to the world at large. There’s no doubt she’s ready to take the next step. It’s up to the rest of us to keep up with her.
Words: Bob Fish