Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

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Album Review: SOAK – Before We Forgot How To Dream.

2 min read

It takes a bold artist indeed to begin a debut album with what ostensibly amounts to a soundscape. After all, that kind of deeply cerebral opening move has been abandoned by so many other artists; it has become distinctly uncool in certain circles. But ‘bold’ is exactly the word one would use to describe SOAK, a.k.a. Bridie Monds-Watson. One never gets the sense that Monds-Watson is concerned with what’s cool, or what will win her praise from her critics, or what will align her with certain sonic circles. This is music that pours directly from her heart; music that is uncensored and unchecked, and as a result, Before We Forgot To Dream stands as one of the most open and honest records to be dropped this year.

Soak - Before We Forgot How To DreamThough the tone is gentle – even the album’s ‘harshest’ track, Reckless Behaviour , is melodic and undemanding – there is enough fire on display to stop things from turning into saccharine waffle. When Monds-Watson shows her tender, emotive side, as on Blud or Sea Creatures, the record’s exemplary lead single, she does so with a kind of down to earth defiance that never disrupts the piece, but instead reinforces its power and beauty.

Monds-Watson’s voice is extraordinary. Beautiful songs like 24 Windowed House establish both her range and her stunningly tight control of tone: she doesn’t just hit the high notes, she hits them with an emotive force that feels surgically precise.

Nonetheless, Hailstones Don’t Hurt is the record’s standout track. It manages to be light and airy without ever feeling too esoteric. Monds-Watson’s head might be in the clouds, but she has a firm footing on the ground, and even the song’s emotional, pounding climax displays a restraint that works wonders.

With a force of vision that points to a wisdom one would not expect from Monds-Watson’s tender years, she has shaped an album that feels as much like a self-confident self-portrait as it does a series of songs. Though it would be a stretch to describe Before We Forgot How To Dream a concept album per se, the work is held together by a singular, fully realised view of the world, at the centre of which Monds-Watson confidently stands.