Irish art-folk musician Maija Sofia wrote her debut full-length album in the time leading up to Ireland’s decision to repeal the 8th Amendment on abortion. Stemming from deep contemplation about the subjugation of women, Bath Time, out Friday, November 22 on Trapped Animal Records and Cargo Records, examines women who have been silenced and misrepresented throughout time and gives them a re-imagined voice through Sofia’s lo-fi vocals and folky guitars.
The folk music comprising Bath Time is wonderfully lo-fi, a trait matched only by the almost punk attitude of the gorgeous music. Sofia’s DIY ethos is clear, and that attitude matches well with the indignation and anger that becomes palpable as Sofia weaves stories of women who have been oppressed.
On “Hail Mary,” Sofia croons about the “sexual hypocrisy” of the Catholic church (“Learn to f**k with your legs wide open/Learn to love like there’s still hope”), and Sofia’s strong narration shines on “The Wife of Michael Cleary,” a track featuring dark fairy-tale lyrics (“The wife of Michael Cleary won’t be home again”). Later, “Elizabeth” feels somehow simultaneously dreary and decadent, backed up by dazzling strings as Sofia sings, “I still hear your voice every time I close my eyes.”
These narratives are backed up by echoing vocals and, at times, thick layers of string instruments that create a swell of energy and emotion. And yet though the music is rich and the lyrical content is intense, Bath Time‘s folky nature remains light enough that the album is not jarringly or depressingly heavy. Sofia’s guitar is melodic, and many songs have a delicate nature (“The Gold Shoes”), while others utilize dark noise to create dissonance (“Cobweb”), and still others feel closer to indie rock (“Elizabeth”). The threads tying this all together, however, are Sofia’s guitar and vocals.
All of this is beautifully moving; while Sofia’s music feels lighter and folkier most of the time, her narrative lyrics pack a powerful punch that leaves listeners picturing the very women she aims to illustrate. Bath Time is delightfully accessible in its lilting music, yet it is a complex, contemplative album that will stick with listeners long after the final track ends.
Bath Time is a stunning collection of tracks that re-imagine a world in which women have more freedom. The music on the record is delicate and powerful all at once, and Bath Time comes out Friday, November 22. In the meantime, stream the first single and preorder Bath Time on Bandcamp below.