• sophia Fixed Water (CD, £10.75)

    label: flowershop

    Sophia’s debut. There's no mistaking the tone: sorrow, longing, abandonment and loss set to a skeletal orchestra in which acoustic guitar and pedal steel are only as prominent as the chilly sound of the room in which they hover like regretful ghosts. There's no mistaking the effect: the weary peace that comes after tears. But you might be surprised at the source. Robin Proper-Sheppard, formerly of the God Machine's savage parish, has sculpted a quietly moving eight song elegy for which vulnerable is hardly an adequate description: 'Fixed Water' is so naked it's practically peeled, with only the gentle music to provide a cloak of dignity. You don't need to know the details of the tragedies that inspired it to appreciate the glacier-slow elegy of 'Is it any wonder', the lonely Neil Young-like majesty of 'Are you happy now?' or a slowly cracking 'Last night I had a dream', sounding like Mick Jagger singing 'Wild Horses' at the end of the universe. Or the near unbearably beautiful 'So slow' - "Death comes so slow/when it's all you want/and it takes the ones that don't"- cracking helplessly over the hymn-like uplift of the melody. The fearless, inarticulate speech of the broken heart. Tracks : 1 Is It Any Wonder, 2 So Slow, 3 Are You Happy Now, 4 Another Friend, 5 The Death of a Salesman, 6 Last Night I Had a Dream, 7 When You're Sad, 8 I Can't Believe the Things I Can't Believe

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