With lots of love, this morning we welcome Soren Song to MailTape. Based in Rockland County, NY, their work spans indie folk and americana genres, and is absolutely brimming with striking descriptions and deeply perceptive lyricism. It’s a true joy to welcome them for a collection of tracks to start your Sunday.
Soren Song joins us ahead of the release of their concept album, I’m. This work arose from what Soren describes as a moment of crisis that was at once an emotional breakdown and also a spiritual awakening. As they reflect on it, trauma has the potential to break people open and the creative ones create from such chaos.
The release aims to rewrite Soren’s understanding and the existing imagery of their own core personal mythology. As they explain, many of the stories we are told, and carry on to tell ourselves, frame the worlds that we live in; a reality that can be especially damaging when these stories are flawed or false in some way. This album aims to “fix” the stories Soren was told and to write a better story. Consequently, the work is a deeply tender and intimate collection of songs seeking to find truth and construct a new scaffolding of stories.
Soren Song’s selection
Over the Rhine - Poughkeepsie
Soren Song: “When I was a freshman in college I was sitting on a bench alone. A girl I’d just met sat down next to me and was listening to a discman. She told me I needed to hear this new song that had just come out by a band called “Over the Rhine” that no one seemed to know about. I’d never been someone who knew about a cool band no one knew about so I was very intrigued. The album was called “Good Dog Bad Dog” and the song was “Poughkeepsie”. It changed everything for me. I had just begun writing songs a few months before but hadn’t performed in front of anyone yet. I was raised in a very strict religious cult and hadn’t heard anything but old hymns and hip hop for the most part up until that point. Hearing someone sing so beautifully and delicately about depression and things I was very familiar with at the time was incredibly healing for me. It absolutely informed what I did musically from that day forward and still informs what I do to this day. This album became one of my all-time favorites in no time and I’ve been following the band for 25 years now.“
Sean Rowe - I’ll Follow Your Trail
Soren Song: “This is one of the few songwriters I’ve heard in the past couple decades that immediately let me know he could hang with any of the masters of my youth. His voice alone is worth the price of admission and the melody is absolute understated perfection but the subject matter - a song to his child - is deeply impactful and got me quite emotional. I imagined my father singing something like this to me and it was far from the experience I had in my real life. I got to imagine what that safety and security might feel like and gave me hope that I could offer the world more than I was given.“
The Beatles - A Day In The Life
Soren Song: “The Beatles - I know. For me, it was a different journey that got me to them. I was barely aware of their existence growing up and never heard their music. I remember seeing memorabilia of the four “mop tops” in a shop at the mall and that was about all I knew of them. At home, I was not allowed to listen to “secular” music which, for those who don’t know, is anything that isn’t the very specific music sanctioned by my church. I lived in a very urban area and only heard hip hop and R&B outside of the home. My senior year in high school, after getting in trouble in public school, I was forced to attend a small, almost entirely white and suburban Christian school. It was a nightmare of abuse but the good that did come of it was driving in a car and hearing “A Day In the Life” for the first time. I couldn’t imagine anything else in life being more important than what was happening in that moment. When the song finished playing I asked what the hell I had just listened to. My new friend looked at me very strangely and said: “That was The Beatles. Do you really not know The Beatles?” From that day forward I did and The Beatles - John Lennon in particular - became the template for what to do in life. I started writing songs almost immediately.“
Soren Song - Gentle Man
Sarah: “So many lines to turn over in this track, including, “What if the shadow is really the shade?” One of my favorite songs off of Soren Song’s soon to be released concept album, I’m. Their voice is so powerful throughout, radiating with the studio’s absolutely mellifluent Steinway D concert grand piano. The resulting track is a moment in itself, as most of the song was cut live to tape, with Soren both singing and playing the piano. (A nod must be given to the music video, juxtaposing the studio piano grandeur with such creativity). We see Soren’s album mission at work in this track, making sense of both brokenness and beauty in their own mythology. The lyrics depict a process of reconciling – of pain and of love in their life. As Soren distinguishes, this is not an act of justifying the chaos they experienced, but is a reclamation of their self from the aftermath. The album’s existence itself is a testament to Soren’s perseverance, a redemption story but also a glaring despite everything.“
Adelyn Rose - Gone for Anything
Sarah: “Really enjoying this 2020 album from Adelyn Rose, entitled Any Way. This song in particular has such layered softness, and the celestial vocal harmonies work so well against the horn and flute sections that waver and weave around the track’s end.“
Soren Song - That Furious Rain
Sarah: “Once again, I’m in love with Soren’s tender lyricism and the vulnerability shrouding it, especially the verses on selfishness and desire. Another beautiful track of Soren’s, this one the second to last track on their 2019 album, Boundaries. Originally part of Soren’s Only Always (2006 album) sessions, That Furious Rain was finished for the Boundaries collection in collaboration with famed producer Danny Blume.“
Rainbow Kitten Surprise - Polite Company
Sarah: “I like how the piano from That Furious Rain floats into the piano underlay of this one – the glory of the endless playlist :) This track has been an old friend for years and it’s my favorite from the RKS collection. I’ve wanted to include it in a MailTape playlist since I started working here, this episode seems like the right time. The lyrics are so brutally tender, making the softness of the vocals land somewhat like a scream. The unrefined roughness in the production process also seems ironically deliberate given the rest of How to: Friend, Love, Freefall’s meticulous mastering. I like how you have to listen in carefully to the track to understand its lyrics, maybe some things are too intimate to say with your full chest, even if it’s in a song. Be sure to listen for the entrance of the percussives, solidifying Polite Company as the right track to close out the 2017 album, as well as this episode :)“
That wraps up this morning’s selection, what a journey it’s been! As always, thank you for joining us. Our love to Soren Song for their delightful Sunday discoveries, and a million thanks to Meriam Kharbat for this episode’s wonderful illustration!