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Sophia - People Are Like Seasons

  by Jon Rogers

published: 27 / 12 / 2003

Sophia - People Are Like Seasons
Label: City Slang
Format: CD


Finely-conceived third studio album from Sophia which finds frontman Robin Proper-Sheppard mining the same areas of regret and loss as he has done on the band's previous albums, but also looking back to his days with the ferecious God Machine

There always seemed to be a marked distinction between the God Machine and Robin Proper-Sheppard's more solo orientated project, Sophia. It was as if Proper-Sheppard cut all links with his musical past. The ferocious assault of the former had given way to a more introspective tenderness; and never the twain shall meet. The band's latest album 'People are like Seasons' sees Proper-Sheppard give his biggest nod yet to his band of old. Sure, it's more a subtle hint - a sly nod and a wink rather than a big gaudy neon sign - but its there none the less. 'People are like Seasons' is definitely an album by Sophia, though, rather than a case of a la recherche du temps perdu. It's hard though when a song is called 'Desert Song No. 2' not to go digging around for a copy of the God Machine's 1993 debut, 'Scenes from the Second Storey'. And 'If a Change is Gonna Come' is an unapologetic, unreconstructed leather-trousered rocker. Perhaps not in the same intense league of God Machine songs like 'Home' but it still comes as something of an eye-opener. For most of the album, however, Proper-Sheppard mines the similar areas of regret, loss, reclamation and self-examination that he has done on the previous three Sophia albums. And still does it beautifully. The album opens with 'Oh My Love', a song that bounces along with the protagonist claiming: "I can't wait forever for you to say you love me". The pace is slowed right down for the lull of 'Swept Back' as it gently ebbs and flows detailing the "push and pull" of a relationship. A definite highlight. After the self-deprecating 'Fool', the eight-minute 'Desert Song No. 2' keeps up the momentum. A delicate string arrangement accompanies a tale of dark introspection and self-doubt with the trademark rising and falling crescendoes. 'Darkness (Another Shade in your Black)' sees a startling change of mood and pace. It trundles along with almost indecipherable lyrics delivered by a heavily effects-laden vocal. Interesting, but not one of the band's better moments. The volume then gets turned up for the testosterone-fuelled 'If a Change is Gonna Come'. It's summed-up by Proper-Sheppard repeating the lyric: "Life's a bitch and then you die." Apart from the epic sweep of the penultimate seven-minute 'I Left You', the last third of the album is rather disappointing. Worst offender is the dreadfully twee 'Holidays are Nice'. Yep, saccharine sweet as Proper-Sheppard extols the virtues of going on holiday where "everything's lovely, everything's nice". Pass the sick bucket -quick. 'Another Trauma' ain't so hot either. It's more a sketch rather than a fully fledged painting. Then again, some people's doodles are far better someone else's magnum opus. Still, it could have done with some extra work done to it. 'I Left You' shows what Sophia is capable of though. Simply it's a divorce lament worthy of Bob Dylan's 'Blood on the Tracks'. Stunning. Although not quite a certified classic the band always seem on the verge of making, 'People are like Seasons' is still a little gem of an album. Please though, no more of the likes of 'Holidays are Nice.'

Track Listing:-
1 Oh My Love
2 Swept Back
3 Fool
4 Desert Song No 2
5 Darkness (Another Shade In Your Black)
6 If A Change Is Gonna Come...
7 Swore To Myself
8 Holidays Are Nice
9 I Left You
10 Another Trauma

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Interview (2009)
Sophia - Interview
Sarah Maybank finds Jon Spencer to be in aggressive mood when she speaks to him about Heavy Trash's new album, 'Midnight Soul Mood', and how he divides his time between it and his other band, the Blues Explosion
Interview with Robin Proper-Sheppard (2004)

live reviews

Bush Hall, London, 18/11/2003
Sophia - Bush Hall, London, 18/11/2003
As a prelude to a European tour and their new album 'People are Like Seasons', both of which are due early next year, Sophia recently played a low-key gig at the London Bush Hall. From uncertain beginnings Jon Rogers finds them on fine form

digital downloads


There Are No Goodbyes (2009)
Understated and slow-growing, but ultimately rewarding fifth album from Sophia, which depicts in powerful detail the agony of a relationship having gone sour
Seduction Of Madness (2002)
De Nachten (2001)

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