Soccer Mommy - Clean (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Soccer Mommy

Clean (2018)

Fat possum

Nashville's Sophie Allison aka Soccer Mommy may well be the biggest-kept secret of 2018. Bold statement but when you listen to Clean, you'll realize why. In backtracking, I got ahold of her older music and absolutely loved it, which made me skeptical if she'd be able to recapture it with a more cleaned up and finessed production. Safe to say, it's every bit as raw, rough, lo-fi and real. Then again, when music is this soul-searing and intimate, it's hard to buck that pure essence -- especially with a coming-of-age album from a songstress in her '20s.

Soccer Mommy's vocals carry the album in such an ethereal manner, evoking Lana Del Rey at times, but with the vulnerable and tactical writing of Sufjan Stevens. And make no mistake, while there are dreamy/wispy/poppy hooks and melodies, there's a lot of piano-driven and acoustic burners that feel so far away from anything mainstream. Diversity plays a big role here, as you can tell. And if you think I'm kidding, then just wait for the 1-2-3 punch Clean opens up with. "Still Clean" is a shimmery slow-burner, followed by a Weezer-esque jam in "Cool" and guitars that throw back to the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" on the third song "Your Dog". Now, don't let the titles fool you, they may be quite simple but these songs are deep and in the case of the latter, the sharp angular guitars prove how frustrated and restless Allison is with the world; and just how powerful her messages can be.

No wonder she swims from poppy melodies to catchy indie jams to dream pop tunes a la Canada's Alvvays (as per "Last Girl"). At this point, her voice aside, I'm sure you can tell that I'm a sucker for her emotive and relatable lyrics that remind me how it feels for someone to stomp all over my heart. In other words, whatever musical style she deploys, I'm hooked. Then there are the twangy jams that remind me of Hop Along and which come full circle on the closer "Wildflowers" -- which is very apt as Clean is all about sewing the seeds of youth, with a fire that reminds us that pretty soon we'll have to mature to fully bloom. In between though, it's a rough journey that'll dirty our souls and at the end, there's a clean, white light awaiting.