“Big Sky Country” – Sofia Talvik

4 stars (out of 5)

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Sofia Talvik - 'Big Sky Country' - cover (300dpi)Sofia Talvik’s sixth album, “Big Sky Country” is partly inspired by a sixteen-month US tour she did around four years ago. It’s very much Americana but with an outsider’s perspective; Sofia grew up in Sweden and there’s a Nordic accent to add to the Celtic, traditional and Native American influences that run through the album. Using European and American musicians helps to create the rootless, almost lost, other-worldliness that permeates the album from the ethereal opener “Aha-Aha” to the closing song, “So”, a ballad of love and acceptance. It’s an album that’s very easy to listen to and be pulled in to; the playing is understated throughout and even the brass used on “Bonfire” and “So” is gentle and a long way away.

There have been comparisons in the past to various seventies singer-songwriters and it’s not difficult see how those came about (even without the giveaway of the Buffy Sainte-Marie cover, “Starwalker”). Sofia sings in a pure, clear voice and her songs are a mixture of personal events and reactions and awe at her surroundings. The title song demonstrates this perfectly as it moves from the grandeur to the prosaic: ’ I’ve seen the Blue Ridge Mountains rise tall, I’ve heard the San Francisco sea lions call, I left my heart in a dirty old bar, in Laramie, Wyoming, I slept in my car’.

There’s a streak of melancholy running through the album (which is never a problem for me), highlighted in the failed relationship tale of “Dusty Heart, Empty Hand” and “Lullaby”, describing the world from the point of view of someone suffering from depression. It’s not pretty but it hits the mark perfectly. “Big Sky Country” is an interesting mixture of influences and impressions which ranges from the inward-looking and introverted to the widescreen love letter to Sofia Talvik’s second country. The gentle, haunting musical arrangements are seductive and powerful, pulling you into a world of magnificent vistas and broken spirits.

 

“Big Sky Country” is out now on Makaki Music (MMSCD17).