Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this afternoon’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Sophie Jill, a singer songwriter from Suffolk, England. Her music is particularly compelling because it seems to defy a specific genre classification. She toys with pop, R&B, and reggae with immense tact, and thus, her latest studio endeavor, ‘Cocaine Love,’ is a captivating one. Let’s dig right into the ten track collection.
As ‘Social Network,’ the opening of the record exhibits, Jill’s prowess leans toward pop, but she muses with some light reggae and R&B stylings, too. Her compositions are eclectic. Some songs are backed by resounding, atmospheric acoustic percussion, such as ‘Social Network,’ whereas other tunes have some electronic beats and vibes, such as ‘Big Love.’ That latter song is absolutely infectious. Everything from the sporadic brass sections to the anthemic chorus makes ‘Big Love’ one of the most lovable indie pop songs I’ve heard in months.
Even though Jill moves toward some predictable pop lyrical tropes at times, her personality revitalizes them and actually makes them fully original again. “I’m your easy option,” Jill croons on ‘Easy Option,’ a rather relatable track about that certain somebody who is clearly using you as a fallback plan. Jill’s presence is defiantly powerful throughout the track, continuing to cement her wonderful performance personality. I’d actually argue that is what sells this entire record and makes it such a good effort: Jill makes the content superb with her enthusiasm and talent.
‘Fell For The Badman’ touches on the first open introduction of reggae into Jill’s sound. It’s nothing short of splendid - Sophie Jill nails reggae. Who would have thought a white girl from England would master reggae so well? ‘Fell For The Badman’ also exhibits a powerhouse voice slowly reaching its potential. I’d argue that Jill would be a breathtaking blues or soul singer; talents like this can transcend genres.
‘What I’d Do To Ya’ is a pretty suave pop track that incorporates some sparse, but effective synthesizers to craft a well-suited sonic landscape around Jill. The song is catchy, which is again, entirely due to the vocal delivery. It is worth touching on the production of the record, however, since it does accent Jill and complete the experience. The entirety of ‘Cocaine Love’ is very intelligently designed. Nothing feels out of place in the mix, every instrument is well mastered, and Jill is constantly highlighted as the key talent amidst it all.
The title track, ‘Cocaine Love,’ is one of the most poignant endeavors on the album. I absolutely adore Jill when she’s backed by synth string sections and a soft, thudding piano. Goodness, her voice is something else. It bears repeating: she needs to expand into other genres at some point. ‘Spring Time Love Affair’ feels like a step back in some ways, though, since it's just a fluffy acoustic pop ballad. It is cute and likable; you’re just left wanting something with much more depth after the titular tune.
‘Wisdom Man’ is an especially interesting track because it lends some insight into another side of Sophie Jill. This is soul music. It sounds like something out of a Stax Records compilation, which is a very high compliment. Hell, ‘Wisdom Man’ is the finest track of the album, I’d say. It’s the perfect culmination of Jill’s talent and her strong backing. The album closes with two fine tracks, too. ‘C’mon Darlin’ is an excellent pop tune and ‘Come My Way’ closes the album with that soft style I so love with Jill.
‘Cocaine Love’ is a triumphantly good independent record. Even during a few stereotypical pop moments, Jill manages to breathe fresh life into the experience. She’s such a talent - an unmatched vocalist in the scene right now with immense potential. Her sound is wholly original, and I love her combination of genre influences. Thus, I can’t wait to see where she goes next. She’s quite good. Stream her on Spotify and find her website below.