Rising British singer/songwriter Sophie Jamieson released two EPs back in 2020 that caught the attention of Bella Union Records, who signed Jamieson — and will be releasing her full-length debut, the Steph Marziano-produced Choosing. Slated for a December 2, 2022 release, Choosing is a subtle rework of the sound that Jamieson quickly established through her first two EPs: While those EPs flirted with playful experimentation, Choosing‘s sound is both more organic simpler and intimate, featuring arrangements of live drums, bass, cello and piano, which are roomy enough for the British singer/songwriter’s mesmerizing vocals to take the spotlight.
Jamieson has described the songs on those two EPs as “black holes” and while Choosing covers similar ground, it reportedly never takes it eyes from what lies beyond, never fully releases its grip when everything is telling her to let go. The album is a deeply personal documentation of a journey from the painful rock bottom of self-destruction to a safer place, imbued with the faint light of hope. Focusing on the bare bones of each song, the album’s material is influenced by songwriters like Elena Tonra, Sharon Van Etten and Scott Hutchinson, and sees Jamieson singing openly about longing and searching, of trying, failing and trying again, and the strength of love in its varying forms.
“The title of this album is so important,” Sophie explains. “Without it, this might sound like another record about self-destruction and pain, but at heart, it’s about hope, and finding strength. It’s about finding the light at the end of the tunnel, and crawling towards it.”
Ultimately, the album asks the listener to look deep within themselves and to show them that they can take whatever pain they’re experiencing, and choose, to some extent, how they let it affect them; whether they let it burn them down or whether they choose to look it straight in the face. “The songs are bursting with something, and that energy just needs to be reshaped into love for the self,” Sophie explains. “I can say this from a place of having learned now how to love and care for myself. The love that reverberates through this album is like the green shoots of something I have happily learned to nurture into my present day.”
“The few times I have listened to this album from start to finish, I have realized that there is a huge amount of love in it,” Jamieson says “I think there is a strong potential for real, healthy, healing love. It’s like a line of relief that runs along through all the songs. It’s never unleashed, it hasn’t yet learned how, but it’s present in an underlying tension and potential.”
Choosing‘s first single, the devastating “Sink” is centered around a sparse arrangement of twinkling and wobbling keys that seem both childlike and ironically detached, skittering boom bap-like drumming that’s roomy enough for Jamieson’s weary and heartbroken delivery to take the lead. The song is an unflinchingly honest look at someone on the edge — and not quite knowing what’s next. “Sink” was written as a love letter to alcohol amid an increasing dependence upon it, informed by a recurring image Sophie had of herself on a desert island, a quiet, calm place that was just too good to be true. “’Sink’ presents a purgatory between being able to choose and begging not to be pulled under,” Sophie explains. “It’s about teetering on the edge, looking over the cliff, asking not to be pulled over before realising you only have to choose not to jump.”
Co-directed by Jamieson and Rosamund Bullard and filmed and edited by Bullard, the accompanying video follows Jamieson taking a train to the coast. We follow her as she walks along the shore, looking at the horizon in front of her. “This song began as a love letter to alcohol, written from the cusp of falling into addiction. I had begun to trust this tool but I could feel it turning on me, like a bad friend,” Jamieson says of the song and accompanying video. “I knew I was close to losing control over it, and realized that I had to choose whether to fall in or not. This song exists at the brink of choice: whether to abandon yourself, or whether to make the colossal effort to rescue yourself. The video, like the song, approaches the edge – the tantalizing mystery and comfort of it, the openness of possibility and also the quiet knowledge of the dead end. The shoreline is that edge: beautiful, eerie, infinite, and empty.”