‘Promises’ is the first single from Soffía’s third solo album. I’ve reviewed the previous two – when she was Soffía Björg – and I’ve always found her to be the writer of profound, challenging and entertaining songs, often concerning the trials and tribulations of her life and baring her soul as and when needed.
And there’s nothing different here.
In ‘Promises’, Soffía makes fun of herself and her need to be loved when she could be dancing and doing whatever she wants. Spending the nights curled up in front of the TV with a partner rather than cavorting around downtown Reykjavik hoping the good times will turn up in a taxi.
It is a sort of role reversal of the position taken by the Danish singer-songwriter Gurli Octavia in her debut album ‘I could be blossoming instead’ when she admitted to too much loving, of the bottle rather than of the people who loved her and who offered that love without demanding it be requited.
I didn’t throw that in for the hell of it. I recall Soffía’s last album, ‘The company you keep’, came out around the same time as the Dane’s debut and it was clear that the two are singing from backgrounds that are both complementary, and nonreciprocal.
Her mind seems to be made up and she won’t be making any more promises she can’t keep: “I’m through kissing boys, I’m done chasing men, love…I won’t do it again” she declares halfway through the song, although I’m sure she’s made a similar statement in the past and rescinded it later.
And as is occasionally the case with Soffía she includes a piece of dark, wild imagery to back up her intent when she sings of all her lovers “being dead on the floor”.
Her final plea is that someone should “take me home”, presumably to Borganes, her farm and her horses; a simple life without complication.
Stylistically, Soffía was often compared to Norah Jones in the early days of her solo career and while I didn’t really hear that on previous work, I do here.
It is slow, laconic, with a hint of soul and the blues and even a bit of gospel. It promises another compelling album of real life adventures reminisced under the aurora borealis.
Interestingly, she uses guitar references to identify specific moments in her life. For example the opening line is “Telling stories on my Tanglewood, how I would glorify the pain”.
That is a neat trick but I’m more interested in the “how I would glorify the pain.” Does that mean she regards her previous incarnation (or one of them) as a ‘Drama Queen’ period? If so, what has she learned? Will the album enlighten us?
The song, and the album, reunites Soffía with Icelandic legend Pétur Ben, with whom she has worked in the past but who was not part of the previous album if I remember correctly. Pétur Ben is the producer on the album and plays most instruments and Magnús Trygvason Eliassen is the drummer.
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