Soccer Mommy on “Clean”

Blooming

Jun 26, 2018 Photography by Ray Lego (For Under the Radar) Issue #63 - Courtney Barnett
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On the final track of Clean, the debut full-length album from Nashville's Soccer Mommy (aka Sophie Allison), the ground opens up. Under the weight of the uncertainty and pain that Allison describes on the proceeding tracks, she imagines the ground buckling: "I dreamt the sidewalk broke in two. The earth was calling to me, a vine stretched out Fifth Avenue," she sings on "Wildflowers."

Despite this dramatically negative symbolism, "Wildflowers" is an encouraging track. Through the course of the record, Allison is figuring out who she wants to be and by "Wildflowers," it feels like she has taken great strides towards self-actualization as she sings, "I want to be who I wasn't, I want to dance in that field of blue."

The 20-year-old started to make music at age six and a few years ago began posting her songs online. She shared them with friends on Tumblr and eventually uploaded her songs to Soundcloud and Bandcamp, gaining confidence along the way. "It got to the point where I was doing it all the time so it wasn't even like an embarrassing thought anymore," Allison explains.

Allison's lo-fi, intimate bedroom-pop tracks, with lyrics like excerpts from the ripped out pages of a diary, garnered attention. She eventually signed to Fat Possum and last year, Allison released Collection-a selection of the songs she posted on Bandcamp since 2015.

Like her past work, Clean has a similarly chilled pop aesthetic but now it's more polished both sonically and lyrically. "I might be feeling even more vulnerable than before," says Allison about the difference between Collection and Clean. "I just feel like I said more things that I wouldn't normally say. I feel like it is a lot more personal. It's more of a full progression. [Clean] goes through a lot stuff. It's much more cohesive than anything else I've done before."

The record centers on the unsteadiness of young adulthood. These songs are about Allison's journey towards steadier footing and the people and moments she has been shaped by. They are, for the most part, sad songs but where there is pain, there is also growth.

"[The album title] comes out of the song 'Still Clean' and the idea of being clean of a person and wanting to have a rebirth," she says. "Wanting to be a new person and wanting to be on this really important new life path where you're totally different and clean of someone and you're going through this whole new period and realizing you can't force it. You can't force yourself to be totally different all of a sudden."

As Allison's popularity grows steadily, she expresses an anxiety over the vulnerability of her work-"you know that everyone is watching and judging you," she says. But driven by her restless aspirations and honesty, Allison continues to bloom.

"I feel like once I can pay my rent and have a house and I'm touring and handling all that, I'll probably feel more like I've made it. That's really the only goal I have. I don't need to be rich off of this, I'm just trying to be able to do it as a career and live comfortably."

[Note: This article originally appeared in Under the Radar's Spring 2018 Issue (March/April/May 2018), which is out now. This is its debut online.]

www.sopharela.bandcamp.com

www.facebook.com/soccermommymusic/

www.twitter.com/sopharela

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multumesc
October 25th 2018
8:29am

Sophie Allison’s excellent studio debut is a compact album of clear melodies, plainspoken lyrics, and the impossibly tangled logic of infatuation. When she sings “I wanna be that cool,” you believe her. Coolness would be something to aspire to for a young indie rocker who records music under the decidedly uncool alias of Soccer Mommy. But the 20-year-old Allison, from Nashville, Tennessee, has something more valuable: a humble, relatable attitude of someone from janitorial services cincinnati oh. Her hazy singing can be conversational and appealingly flat. She sounds like a person you might know.