Album review: Maija Sofia’s Bath Time

Maddie Deye reviews the Trinity student’s debut album featuring celestial vocals, intricate storytelling and the power of remembrance

Over soulful indie guitar and violin, Maija Sofia softly croons about the feminine experience – dancing from the religious, to the folk, to the modern narratives we tell about women. Named one of The Irish Times’ “50 People to Watch in 2019”, Sofia’s newest release, Bath Time, is highly anticipated. Her sound is incredibly mature, giving the sense of a wise older sister, sharing a mix of superstitions and tales of nostalgic personal anecdotes. 

The album is dreamy, which comes as no surprise to fans of her hit single Flowers, while also edging toward a grittier side in songs like Hail Mary, which touches on the sexualization of the feminine form. Her voice, however, is the star of the album. Dainty and rich at the same time, she perfectly carries off the sort of folk and “homemade” sound she is inspired by. 

Speaking to Trinity News, Sofia mentioned that the album “accidentally seems to be about the position of women remembered as muses, mistresses, girlfriends…to their male counterparts”. She writes odes to these forgotten women, women reduced to sources of inspiration for male artists while their own creativity is deemed secondary. These women include Edie Sedgwick, “famously a muse to Warhol and Dylan and…only ever really referred to through the lens of how these men (mis)represented her”, and Lizzie Siddal, who was “the lover of the painter Rossetti and a muse to the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, but was also a poet and a visual artist herself”. And closer to home, Bridget Cleary: “a seamstress from Tipperary in the late 1800s, [whose] husband Michael one day decided she’d been switched with a fairy changeling and murdered her under the guise of exorcism ritual.”

These eulogies for the forgotten woman recognize the difficulty of being a female artist throughout history, and Sofia’s music aches with nostalgia for these predecessors. No longer content with being a muse, Sofia wraps these messages of pain and yearning in a fabric of delicate sound which celebrates the feminine in all its complexity. As for the artist herself? When asked what she is most looking forward to after the album, she responded, “Finishing final year, lol”.

Maija Sofia’s Bath Time will be released on 22 November 2019 via Trapped Animal Records & Cargo Records.