Being a nation that churns out endless amounts of trad/folk singer-songwriters, it is always refreshing to unearth a real gem in the category. The affecting full length debut by SOAK, aka Bridie Monds-Watson, falls under such a description. Heralded as ‘One To Watch’ as far back as 2013, there has been much expected of the plucky 16-year old Derry native, and, with the benefit of hindsight, she was well worth the wait. A brittle, yet highly accomplished portrait of a teenage girl in the most vulnerable period of her life, Before We Forget To Dream is a record most established performers would be proud of, never mind one in the embryonic stages of her career.
Watson’s shrill, almost childlike vocals and unconcealed Derry accent depict a youthful, sometimes fragile innocence, with her songs displaying remarkable maturity throughout. The reflective nature of ballads like ‘Blud’ and ‘B a Nobody’, a heart-breaking portrayal of teenage isolation, emanate a palpable sense of purity, as does the tender melancholy of songs like ‘Wait’, ’24 Windowed House’ and the haunting ‘Shuvels’. Quirky pop jingle ‘Sea Creatures’, last year’s EP title-track, carries an unexpectedly deep meaning along with it’s sprightly melody and lyrics, while the upbeat ‘Reckless Behaviour’ paints a vivid portrait of teenage life that any young girl could both identify, and empathise with.
It is through these thought-provoking intricacies, together with the subtleness of the acoustic melodies and the poignancy of the lyrics, that the real beauty of Before We Forget To Dream shines bright, even if it isn’t the most alluring album musically. A wonderfully authentic debut from an artist with a big future.