Sophia Knapp: Into the Waves
It’s one of those things. I can still clearly remember the moment I first set eyes on Sophia Knapp. She was strolling through the back room of Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ, with a confidence, flair, and singularity that left no room for questions: She was in the band.
I was there with Omar and Monica, and we had never heard of Sophia Knapp or that band, then called Lights. We were there to see Dengue Fever, and they were good, but it was Lights that won our hearts.
Lights exhibited a compelling combination of sophistication and naivety. They played their instrumentsguitar, drums, and bassas though they had just invented them. And they sounded like nothing else I was listening to at the time: a strange mix of exotica, psychedelia, and stoner rock, but with the most heavenly vocal harmonies. What was this?
It was weird and awesome. And there was a light show and interpretive dancing!
Since then, Lights have changed their name to Cliffie Swan, bassists have come and gone, and the core members, guitarist Sophia Knapp and drummer Linnea Vedder, have kept busy with many other projects. The latest is Knapps’s solo album, Into the Waves, available now from Drag City.
I’m not sure what to make of it. Into the Waves sounds crazily familiarI can’t listen to the title track without breaking into “Build Me Up Buttercup,” and I keep having flashes to (in order): Stevie Nicks, Jane Birken, and Olivia Newton John.
But even as I write those words, I can’t help but enjoy the music. The duets with Bill Callahan are especially satisfying, his gruff, straightforward delivery wonderfully complementing Knapp’s mellifluous, delicate coo. It’s still got a sort of light disco feel to it, but I like it. Like much of Knapp and Callahan’s other work, the sound is spacious, natural, and present.
Here’s the video for “In Paper”:
And you can listen to “Into the Waves” here:
Why do you build me up, buttercup, baby, just to let me down? Darn it, there it goes again.