Sofi Thanhauser's self-titled debut album is an Island CD in the fullest sense: created by an Island native, showcasing Island musicians, and recorded in West Tisbury.
Dealing with situations and feelings, the songs all tell relatable stories. "I think of myself more as a lyricist than as a musician," says Ms. Thanhauser. "The formal connection between music and words is something I want to work more on. People put text and music together as if that's not an extraordinary thing to do, and it is. In classical music, a melody line stands alone. I trusted the musical composition of the album to my friends."
Those friends, including Matthew Cullen, and the Vineyard's own Nina Violet, Tim Laursen, and Willy Mason handle most of the recording and arrangement of the album, most of which was done in West Tisbury. It is being sold at Che's Lounge in Vineyard Haven and Aboveground Records in Edgartown.
"An audience of strangers is much less frightening than an audience with just a couple of friends," Ms. Thanhauser says. "Having your friends see you create art is the real test. They're who you're really holding yourself accountable to."
The songs flow smoothly from one to another. Each brings a fresh sound, and no two songs use the same devices to hold the listener's attention. At times, such as on "Finest Foal," Ms. Thanhauser's storytelling creates a moody atmosphere, incorporating strong rhythmic elements. On other tracks, such as on "Lena," Ms. Thanhauser's vocals employ a less structured rhythm and an almost comedic timing.
The opening track, "Tell Me," begins with the sound of sustained strings that eventually merge into rumbling percussion. Add to that, provocative lyrics delivered with surprising shifts in rhythm. Each of the original songs evokes authenticity. The second track, "Pupeteer," swaggers before building to the chorus, stating: "I don't like pretending to be in love."
Another song, "Downtown," expresses both a brave and painful honesty that reflects an ingrained sadness.