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Immerse Yourself In SOAK's Tender, Unsettled Debut Record


Let's hear some new music now with our guides Stephen Thompson and Bob Boilen of NPR Music.

BOB BOILEN, BYLINE: Last fall, I got this song by an 18-year-old singer from Derry, Ireland. Her name's Bridie Monds-Watson. She goes by the name of SOAK. And the first line in the song "B A Nobody" starts off a teenage heart is an unguided dart. And I just thought that was a killer, and I love the song.


SOAK: (Singing) A teenage heart is an unguarded dart. We're trying hard to make something of what we are.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: So that song "B A NoBody" is on SOAK's new, full-length debut album. It's called "Before We Forgot How To Dream." And that song, like a lot of songs on the record, is about shyness and uncertainty and these kind of inward-facing pursuits. You know, when you're very young, you're constantly coming to terms with who you are. And this record is very much about that.

BOILEN: And she's splits her time between skateboarding and making music. She's been making music since she was 13. She's got two EP's. And then we went, Stephen - we went and saw her, of course, at South by Southwest, the music festival this past March.

THOMPSON: Yeah. And seeing her standing on stage, you see somebody who's clearly spent a lot of time kind of huddled over a guitar in a bedroom and is learning to be more out in the world.

BOILEN: Yeah, very unassuming presence, but really powerful words. We'll play - this was a first single from this new record that's coming out from SOAK. This song's called "Sea Creatures."


SOAK: (Singing) The stars and moon remind me of you. I don't know what to say. It might make you worse. I don't understand what her problem is. I think she's just a fish.

BOILEN: The songs are beautiful, but as an album, it holds together. There are great atmospherics that take you from song to song, little washes of ocean, as in "Sea Creatures" - really nicely put together, especially for a debut record.

THOMPSON: Yeah, it's a beautiful-sounding record, but it's also something. I like it when - when a new artist comes out and has a philosophy and has a point of view. That song "Sea Creatures" is great. It's, you know, about alienation, and it sounds innocent, but also weary. There's another song on the record called "Blud," that's about her parents' divorce and coming to terms with that.

BOILEN: And hearing her parents argue in the house, right?

THOMPSON: Yeah. And it's a gorgeous song, but it fits into the larger themes of the record. Let's actually here a little bit of "Blud."


SOAK: (Singing) You've got a problem. I cannot fix it. Hear the anger through the ceiling. I wish I missed it.

BOILEN: The mood on this record is quite tender and some of the songs are slow, but that's not true of every song on SOAK's debut record.

THOMPSON: Yeah, there's a song called "Garden" that builds up a lot more energy. And I love the way that even when this album has more energy, it still feels unsettled. She's still coming to terms with who she is as a person and that's really reflected in the sound.


SOAK: (Singing) I'd take you away, freeway, if I could.

MONTAGNE: That's Stephen Thompson of the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast and Bob Boilen of All Songs Considered. They were talking about the artist SOAK. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Stephen Thompson
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
Bob Boilen
In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.