Violent Strawberry (ep)
Tin Man Heart
Heartfelt Songs For After Midnight on a Tuesday Night.
I was 99.9% sure I had lovingly reviewed Sonja Sleator’s previous EP Adams; yet I can find no trace of it anywhere on the website……. has someone pinched it?
But let’s leap forward to today and this four and a half song ‘introduction’ to another of Northern Ireland’s musical jewels that deserves a much wider audience across the Irish Sea.
This is actually young Ms. Sleator’s third release in the EP format, and each has shown a pretty big step forward in both her songwriting and her vocal performance too; with the opening song here Ghost being every bit as ethereal and haunting as the title would suggest. There’s a definite shimmer to her pearlescent voice as she tells a very personal tale of a torrid breakup via the medium of Lo-Fi influenced Country Music.
For a pretty young woman Sonja doesn’t appear to have very good judgement when it comes to love, unless all of these songs are about the same person, with As You Claim is every bit as dark and brooding as Ghost; but here there’s a certain charm to the way Sonja rolls with the (metaphorical) punches.
The one and a half songs I mention at the beginning are really two versions of Goodbye, with a radio edit ending the EP. In it’s own way this song is the most mature writing I’ve heard from Sonja Sleator; mostly because she judiciously uses the F-word at one stage, but in a way that only ‘it’ will do to get her righteous anger across; and in this gentle format it has the perfect effect.
Then there is my Favourite Song here; You Never Said. A very clever and quite intense song; but one that every single second and word will have an effect on.
Again, Sonja uses a ‘swear word’ in a verse, and normally that would offend me (I’m an old man!) but when used in context, it works an absolute treat!
“Now just leave me be
You’re a bastard
But so was he
But so was he
You never said sorry to me
You never said Sorry I left
You never said sorry to me.”
There’s something very special about Sonja Sleator, starting with her distinctive and gently expressive voice; but mostly here very mature and accessible songwriting that will appeal to the demographic that needs a ‘go to set of songs’ for after midnight on a Tuesday when the red wine has run out and there’s only that bottle of brandy your Auntie brought back from Greece in the cupboard.
Without getting too carried away, Sonja Sleator will sit alongside Kirsty MacColl, Beth Orton and even Paul Heaton in both my mind and my record collection.
Released 05th April 2019