Sweden Calling: Sofia Talvik Crafts the Sound of Beguiling Beauty
The beauty of finding Americana Abroad often lies in the fact that it’s discovered in the most unlikely places. Indeed, Sweden may be known for its lovely landscape, beautiful blonde actresses and appealing delicacies – think meatballs and pancakes. But the sounds associated with Americana? Not exactly. Then someone like Sofia Talvik comes along, a singer/songwriter who is able to evoke the essence of Laurel Canyon circa the ‘60s as expressed in the work of Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Buffy Sainte-Marie and others who were able to paint beautiful tapestries from words and music.
In many ways, Talvik seems destined to become their heir apparent, given that her songs are striking in an effervescent and incandescent sort of way. The sound is sometimes elusive, a combination of sensuous musical settings and a beguiling delivery that beckons the listener without ever revealing their final destination.
Talvik’s new album and sixth studio offering overall Big Sky Country offers more of that haunting mystique and brings her closer to those atmospheric environs, creating a study in contemplation that incorporates ten original compositions and a stunning if unexpected cover of Buffy St. Marie’s song “Starwalker.” Like her earlier music, it is, as one observer once noted, an “album that takes your breath away”… with “moments of sheer beauty.”
Tavlik’s tale encompasses a striking trajectory. She was born on an island off the west coast of Sweden, and left home at the age of 18 to pursue her muse in Stockholm. It was a daring adventure for one so young, but the people and experiences she encountered would later inform the songs on her early albums. Nevertheless, she draped her music in unassuming accoutrements – acoustic guitars, cellos, double bass and only the hint of percussion — seizing on the folk finesse that lies at the heart of her delicate designs. Her first album, Blue Moon, was released in 2005 and garnered immediate favorable reaction. Its follow-up, Street of Dreams (2007) featured a notable cameo from Bernard Butler of Suede. As impressive a coup as that would appear, it was the music that mattered most, and with each of her succeeding efforts – Jonestown (2008), Florida (2010), The Owls Are Not What They Seem (2012), and Drivin’ & Dreaming LIVE (2013), Talvik further honed her enchanting neo-folk delivery, attracting more and more notice as her career quickly began to accelerate. In 2008, she became the first Swedish female artist to appear at Lollapalooza. She subsequently toured the U.S. multiple times, with appearances at the South by Southwest and Folk Alliance confabs. Not content to stop there, in 2012 she undertook an extensive tour of the U.S., one which found her playing 37 states in 16 months, several of which were documented on her album Drivin’ & Dreaming LIVE.
Although she currently resides in Berlin, Tavlik hasn’t neglected her Swedish roots. Last year’s FOLK EP contained six songs featuring traditional Swedish folk songs with modern interpretations. One critic wrote, “FOLK is as short as it is blissful. It gracefully bows to tradition. Sofia Talvik captivates the listeners with the soul and emotions of these folk songs. The Swede is one of those singer-songwriters who turns everything she touches into gold.”
Those are some powerful kudos, but all well deserved. Talvik is a Swede to heed.