Why Best Folk Album should not go to an American this year!!
Of course there are so many deserving artists being considered for the Grammy Nomination for best Folk Album, but here is why you should know about - and support Swedish artist Sofia Talvik.
After numerous tours through 48 of the U.S states, she has a unique perspective of an outsider getting included and immersed in what is America today. On her new 9th album ‘Center of the Universe’, Swedish born musician; Sofia Talvik, brings together her own distinctive nordic melancholy, Laurel Canyon vibes and modern folk mixed with bluegrass, further defining the path that is uniquely hers.
Throughout the 10 songs on the album, there is a broad range of topics of some of life’s most earnest moments, ranging from the Ukraine War, American women’s rights, the thousands of missing children in the US and the torment of domestic violence survivors across the world.
ABOUT ‘CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE’:
Imagine yourself in a small rural village in Sweden. White-trimmed wooden houses that date back several hundred years are tucked in between the pines and birch tees next to the quiet lake where the sunlight glitters like gold on the gentle ripple. All around you, you can hear the buzzing of bumblebees, birds singing in the trees, and the sheep are grazing in a nearby pasture, surrounded by a hand tied willow fence.
This is Sulegång and it’s the place Sofia Talvik chose to record her new album ‘Center of the Universe’. With a group of carefully selected musicians; Peyton Clifford and Drake Duffer on accordion, guitar, and mandolin (both hailing from North Carolina) and Janne Manninen on bass (from Sweden), she built up a studio in the living room of one of the old houses.
ABOUT THE SONGS:
‘Too Many Churches’ was written shortly after the overturning of Roe v Wade. Talvik takes on women’s rights to healthcare and their choice on motherhood versus that of religious beliefs. The song was released as an acoustic version in September of last year and charted as no 3 on Folk Radio Charts in the USA.
‘Meanwhile in Winnsboro’ was written right at the very start of the pandemic, just before one of the last shows in Texas that Talvik was able to perform at before everything shut down. She quickly released it during Lockdown and it was instantly picked up and celebrated by American Songwriter Magazine. As time has passed the song has matured into a full arrangement on the new album.
In the title track; ‘Center of the Universe’, Talvik memorizes the thousands of missing US children, singing about all the photos of the Missing found hanging in Walmart’s she witnessed on her last US tour. The song honors Hopi Native Americans’ traditions by sending a prayer of hope that the missing children weren’t abducted but rather ascended to the Tuuwanasavi, the Center of the Universe, and in so found peace.
The 70’s inspired protest song and first single released from the album ‘Circle of Destruction’ is inspired by the Ukraine war and people searching a new life in other countries than their own. The single was instantly pickefd up by radio and featured in Bluegrass Today.
In ‘Boy Soldier’, Talvik describes the fear and solitude of a young boy stuck in a domestic violence riddled home, bringing attention to so many women and children around the world that are unsafe in their own homes. This high energy track really cuts to the heart when Talvik raises her voice in the chorus “She has a space behind the closet, when it gets bad, she can hide you there”, a story that is all too common but much to seldom talked about.
Delving into folk melancholy -akin to fellow Swedes First Aid Kit-, and bluegrassy elements of Molly Tuttle, ‘Center of the Universe’ delivers Talvik’s own neatly packaged stories across its 10 stunning tracks. Dreamy accordion intertwines with bright mandolin, acoustic guitars and bass, creating an ideal foundation for the stark beauty of Talvik’s singular vocal work. As the album unfolds, she lures you into her world with stunning heft and grit, once again proving a master of her craft.
ABOUT SOFIA TALVIK:
Talvik has released 9 full length albums and countless singles and eps. She has performed at festivals ranging from Lollapalooza to SXSW. She has opened for Maria McKee and David Duchovny, and has collaborated with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, as well as Tobias Fröberg (Peter Bjorn and John), who produced her 2008 LP Jonestown. She has also released 2 albums in Swedish as part of the New Acoustic duo Hansan with German cellist David Floer.
Primarily a live artist, Talvik has taken her music across Europe and through 48 U.S. states, riding in her 1989 Winnebago Warrior with her husband and sound technician Jonas at the wheel, digging deep into the American sound and channeling it through her Nordic roots to create a singular brand of Americana. Talvik releases all of her music on Makaki Music, a record label she started early in her career to maintain full control over her own recordings.
While her Swedish roots serve as the basis for her songwriting, she often calls upon her many journeys and experiences for inspiration, especially the uniquely American archetype of roaming the endless highway.
Oh California, one of the lighter and more up-tempo tunes on the album, is a tribute to Sofia’s friend and co-musician Tim Fleming who passed away in 2020. The song tells the story of the beginning of the pandemic and their last days together at a surf shack on Surfside Beach in Texas, just when everything got shut down.
Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Sofia Talvik (unknown/website).