Wolverhampton's Sophielou, SoulSearch - album review
Wolverhampton's Sophielou has released her debut full-length album - and it's one of the most brutally honest records we've heard for a while.
The former Unsigned column star has released a couple of EPs before now, but this is her first full-length venture into the studio.
The local links are strong. It was recorded by her engineer Dominic Laird and Keith Dilworth as well as being mastered by TRC in her home city's Beatsabar Studios at Newhampton Art Studios. And a lot of her recent music videos have come via the city-based First Reunion Media.
One of those - No Ball Games - was shot around the places Sophielou hung around growing up and includes throwback memories like Pokemon Cards many 20-to-30-somethings will relate to. There's also a skit where she tries to explain the video game Lemmings to a younger group.
And the lyrics are so warts 'n' all you feel like you were in some of those situations alongside Sophielou.
The track No Ball Games is a slow burner full of star-like electro twinkles and deep, reverberating bass that evokes the feeling of skipping down memory lane. It's a laid-back, almost lazy look back at days gone by - as most of our happy memories are.
At the other end of the scale is City Full Of Lies Pt.2, which chronicles a disastrous relationship that left her not just heartbroken, but questioning her very existence. Played out with just a strained piano for accompaniment, it ends with the RnB songstress leaving her spoken word approach behind for a few moments on one of the more full-on sung sections of the record. It's a different side to her voice and one she could use more going forward.
The thumping Lost My Way is one of the heavier tracks on the album and those big beats in the chorus power home her message of straying off the path with enough force to warn others off making the same mistakes.
There's more of those beats in the epic Cool Kids - maybe the best song here. The way her melodies flow together make it instantly likeable and should be popular live.
Big marks for using the scene around her - Wolverhampton's Toldyaa and Birmingham rapper Lady Sanity both feature, the latter on the uplifting and hopeful beats of Back To Myself with plinking synths leading the dance behind the duo.
Big marks for honesty. And big marks for her likeable nature throughout.