Despite the fact that his reputation is based to a large extent on misery, Robin Proper-Sheppard can certainly write some uplifting choruses. That knack is more than apparent throughout Sophia’s latest LP ‘There Are No Goodbyes’.
Whilst TANG may be less diverse than its predecessor, ‘Technology Won’t Save Us’ – there’s far less electric guitar than last time – Sophia are not afraid to incorporate different types of instrumentation into the songs. So whilst there’s walls of acoustic guitars there’s also pedal steel and strings, cello and clarinet. For the most part though everything else in the song seems to be there to serve the choruses.
Musically TANG is at its most upbeat early on with the wonderful title track swiftly followed by ‘A Last Dance (To Sad Eyes)’. Things change later on though with ‘Heartache’ tapping into alt.country territory and the mournful ‘Leaving’ led by a plaintiff clarinet.
Lyrically Mr PS seems to be in a similar place to before so there are songs called ‘Storm Clouds’, ‘Heartache’ and ‘Leaving’. Typical lyrics include “I thought I knew heartbreak, but I’ve never known anything like this before’ (‘Heartache’) or “I’m jealous/ And possessive / Neurotic/ Insecure / And obsessive” (‘Something’). Whilst you think that many songwriters in part write in character, I’m far from certain that’s the case here.
A few years ago this sort of thing musically might have passed me by. But these days I’m more likely to have the patience for more subtle fare. And ‘There Are No Goodbyes’ is another fine LP with the bonus of a limited edition double CD including an acoustic (with strings) live recording.