Music

Charlene Soraia Wonders 'Where's My Tribe'

British singer-songwriter Charlene Soraia searches for her place in the world in a collection of raw, vulnerable acoustic songs recorded in a single take on Where's My Tribe.

Where's My Tribe
Charlene Soraia

Peacefrog

25 January 2019

Life is complex. Sometimes the most complicated feelings and emotions can be best explained over the simplest means. That is the principle behind the latest collection of unswervingly honest songs by British singer-songwriter Charlene Soraia. On her new album Where's My Tribe she holds a mirror up to herself in an attempt to understand who she is and where she fits in the modern world, with just a single acoustic guitar for company. The result is a collection of raw, vulnerable acoustic songs recorded in a single take, as she pours her heart out, sat alone in her flat late at night.

Opener "Where's My Tribe" sets the blueprint for the album. With only a solitary acoustic guitar, Soraia lays herself bare, capturing that rare moment when an artist manages to unravel a complex emotion using the simplest and most affecting of means. Over rippling acoustic guitar, she details that feeling of finding you've become untethered from societies' secure moorings, struggling to connect with the wider world as the tide conspires to take you further out to sea. As Soraia sings the chorus of "Chase my dragon / Chase my rabbit / Down the hole", she is reflecting on her self-inflicted dislocation as she knowingly shies away from meeting reality head-on.

Over perpetual waves of shimmering acoustic guitar, "Tragic Youth" finds Soraia struggling to keep the specters of the past from roaring back into the present. Like scratching at a scab that has had insufficient time to heal, she is not ready to let things lie, to let go of the things that have already, unwittingly, gone. She seems locked in limbo, not yet ready to make the changes that will enable recovery and progression. "Temptation" delves deep into unrequited love as the spark of initial attraction is denied the accelerant to ignite fully. Over delicately strummed guitar, Soraia depicts the push and pull of forbidden desire with both parties able to curb their feelings before they engulf them and incinerate all of the relationships that would lie in their path.

The only thing left for them to do is to contemplate what might have been which they do on "Now You Are With Her". The song serves as the flipside to "Temptation's" struggle to resist as the protagonists recoil back into their old lives, far away from the fantasy that dominated every waking hour. "Beautiful People" illustrates what a fluid, innovative guitar player Soraia is as she plucks, slaps, and picks out a rhythm to support her tender, echoing vocals on a song about living in a society that values beauty over everything else.

On the rootsy "Likely to Kill" her slapped acoustic string technique gives the music a quiet sense of menace which perfectly suits the subject matter. Here, Soraia details a pernicious relationship, one that threatens to spill over into something more serious as she sings, "If we stay together, I'll be more likely to kill you." It's doubtful this is a serious threat, more of an admission that the relationship can no longer continue for the sake of their own emotional welfare. However, the sentiment is still instantly relatable for anyone who has found themselves ready to rip themselves clear of a relationship before it's too late.

Closer, "Saboteur Tiger" finds Soraia's voice echoing the great female singer-songwriters of the 1970s like Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Linda Ronstadt. You can imagine her, alone on a wooden stool with smoke circling her on a simply lit stage as her voice fills every nook and cranny in a packed hall. It's a memorable finish with some of her most inspired fretwork on the album.

At times painfully honest, Where's My Tribe encapsulates the enduring solemnity of a voice and a solitary guitar. The songs have an undiluted clarity to them thanks to the simple acoustic backing that heightens the bittersweet sense of beauty and pain. Few albums manage to untangle the complexities of everyday life in such an affecting manner.

8

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.

Music

The Flaming Lips Reimagine Tom Petty's Life in Oklahoma on 'American Head'

The Flaming Lips' American Head is a trip, a journey to the past that one doesn't want to return to but never wants to forget.

Music

Tim Bowness of No-Man Discusses Thematic Ambition Amongst Social Division

With the release of his seventh solo album, Late Night Laments, Tim Bowness explores global tensions and considers how musicians can best foster mutual understanding in times of social unrest.

Music

Angel Olsen Creates a 'Whole New Mess'

No one would call Angel Olsen's Whole New Mess a pretty album. It's much too stark. But there's something riveting about the way Olsen coos to herself that's soft and comforting.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Masma Dream World Go Global and Trippy on "Sundown Forest" (premiere)

Dancer, healer, musician Devi Mambouka shares the trippy "Sundown Forest", which takes listeners deep into the subconscious and onto a healing path.

Music

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" Is an Ode for Unity in Troubling Times (premiere)

Alright Alright's "Don't Worry" is a gentle, prayerful tune that depicts the heart of their upcoming album, Crucible.

Music

'What a Fantastic Death Abyss': David Bowie's 'Outside' at 25

David Bowie's Outside signaled the end of him as a slick pop star and his reintroduction as a ragged-edged arty agitator.

Music

Dream Folk's Wolf & Moon Awaken the Senses with "Eyes Closed" (premiere)

Berlin's Wolf & Moon are an indie folk duo with a dream pop streak. "Eyes Closed" highlights this aspect as the act create a deep sense of atmosphere and mood with the most minimal of tools.

Television

Ranking the Seasons of 'The Wire'

Years after its conclusion, The Wire continues to top best-of-TV lists. With each season's unique story arc, each viewer is likely to have favorites.

Film

Paul Reni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Reni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Music

The Grahams Tell Their Daughter "Don't Give Your Heart Away" (premiere)

The Grahams' sweet-sounding "Don't Give Your Heart Away" is rooted in struggle, inspired by the couples' complicated journey leading up to their daughter's birth.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.