Melancholic folk-indie acoustics, teenage angst and wonderfully ponderous lyrics are just a few things to expect from Bridie Monds-Watson’s music. Better known as SOAK, this Northern Irish gem has had a whirlwind of a year, climbing from the doldrumic grind of musical obscurity to playing enormous crowds at Latitude, Bestival and Radio 1’s Big Weekend.
The 19-year-old from Derry showed no sign of weariness in her performance, despite a six (or so) week-long tour of Europe, one which has taken her music to Belgium, Sweden, Czech Republic, Spain, Germany, Holland – and the rest.
The singer-songwriter accompanied by only her guitar and a microphone began her set at Manchester’s Gorilla faultlessly. SOAK’s ability to engage an audience in this way is remarkable. Her voice transcends her age, a husky yet innocently pensive tone which compliments every aspect of her musical composition. Her sound is resonant on many levels, something which could be seen as well as heard, through the diversity of age in the crowd.
Joined by her drummer and guitarist/bassist, SOAK’s music takes on a fresh lease of life. ‘Before We Forgot How to Dream’ singles ‘Blud’, ‘B a Nobody’ and ‘Sea Creatures’ and ‘Reckless Behaviour’ went down incredibly well. Each song airing its own unique traits, picking up on objective, yet personal messages which mean something to everyone – ultimately allowing the young musician’s live shows to maintain appeal throughout.
This was the third time I had seen her play live and each time it has been the track ‘Oh Brother’ which has stayed with me. The live production of the album is brilliant, it adds new layers of substance to already impassioned music, and it is ‘Oh Brother’ in particular, that superbly exemplifies this.
SOAK, along with her close-knit band, embolden everything when they step on stage. She raises her game, is totally conscious of how to enhance her sound and delivers it in a tremendously entrancing way. Ethereal guitars, crashing cymbals and rich bass hit deep, but it is, of course, that voice which grabs the audience and doesn’t let up.
It is clear how much music means to SOAK. Her humility shines through, her maturity is astounding. It was a pleasure to watch her in a setting as intimate as Gorilla, and the night only reiterated my respect for her as a reputable, down to earth artist with a lot more to offer in the coming years.