21 February, Bill Shaw's Woolshed,
By Ian Thomas
It’s a double-headline show at the old woolshed. Sofia Talvik, from Gothenburg, Sweden is up first. She sets the standard high. Talvik’s sound is in the mix of Americana folk, soft country, pop music but it’s not derivative. Her music is original, her voice beautiful, her lyrics meaningful and clever. Talvik accompanies herself on acoustic guitar, ankle tambourine, and a stomp box. Her set is peppered with engaging chat, about herself and the inspirations for her songs. Her ease, charm and confidence draw the audience – and at one stage the donkey in the yard outside – to respond warmly and loudly.
These are the songs of life experiences. Often challenging experiences. ‘If I had a man’, written to her friend by way of intervention into a bad relationship, is a musical poem demonstrating Talvik’s considerable song writing skills. The 45 minute set is well-crafted to include songs of sadness, self-deprecating humour, joy, and defiance. ‘Die Alone’ is the ballad written to answer the countless presumptuous questions of child-bearing plans aimed at Talvik by nosy, insensitive fans. The song is a delightful, eloquent, thought-provoking response to questions that should never have been asked. It’s an immaculate middle-finger gesture. Talvik flawlessly stamps her own spirit and her own tribal essence onto the Americana canvas. Mid-set we are treated to an a capella version of a Swedish folk song, ‘My rose, my lily’. Then we sing along to the chorus of ‘Cold, Wet Feet’. Later we clap in time as requested. We are all up for the participation and we’re pretty good at it. The intimate setting, audience involvement and radiant talent from the low stage is really what makes these Sitting Room Sessions an enriching experience, a step beyond a conventional gig.
It’s clear that both artist and audience want more time together. The relationship is going so well! The setting is perfect and there’s an awareness that we are enjoying an international talent who may not come our way again, or not anytime soon. Talvik wraps a fiery strength and perceptive consciousness in a beautiful sound. She stands straight looking the audience right in the eye as she delivers her music directly to each listener. Joni Mitchell and Nanci Griffith come to mind but there is never any doubt as to the originality of the artist and her work. She finishes with a Buffy Sainte-Marie song, which seems so appropriate. Talvik honours the indigenous influence of the land and music that she loves and at the same time expresses her wonderful energy and virtuosity. More please.