steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Sophie Barker

"Earthbound" CD

Emperor / Cargo

Genre: singer / songwriter

May 2006

Slow, ethereal pop from UK singer/songwriter Sophie Barker is what you get with Earthbound, a strong debut solo album from the ex-member of Groove Armada and Zero 7. This album sounds like The Cranberries and Sarah McLachlan at times, with a mature, elegant sound that will likely appeal more to the adults than the kiddies. Her melodies evolve slowly, moving along under the pleasant lush arrangements and providing a nice, coffeeshop vibe. At times the songs can be a bit cliché and lame (opening line to the album: "do you wanna let me into your soul?"), but a bit of corniness can be excused when the rest of the record is this solid. Songs like "Dreamlife" and "Wintertime" act as simple but effective vehicles for Barker's impressively pretty voice. In essence, the formula remains the same throughout the record - lush ballads with uplifting choruses - but it works. The darker "Start Me" is a personal favourite, as it adds depth to the record's mood, while the programmed beats of "Angel" inject an interesting punch to the song's wandering structure. Sarah McLachlan and Sinead O'Connor are fine points of reference, as there are some definite connections to those acts on Earthbound. Sure, this music may sound like it belongs on the Dawson's Creek soundtrack, but if adult alternative is your bag, that shouldn't be a problem.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 8 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2006]