On her new 9th album ‘Center of the Universe’, Swedish born musician; Sofia Talvik, brings together her own distinctive nordic melancholy, Laurel Canyon vibes and modern folk mixed with bluegrass, further defining the path that is uniquely hers.
Throughout the 10 songs on the album, there is a broad range of topics of some of life’s most earnest moments, ranging from the Ukraine War, American women’s rights, the thousands of missing children in the US and the torment of domestic violence survivors across the world.
The first single “Circle of Destruction” has already been featured in Bluegrass Today as well as picked up by numerous stations around the U.S and Europe, such as the BBC in the UK. A previous version of “Too Many Churches” released last year reached no 3 on Folk Radio Charts in September 2022. An acoustic version of “Meanwhile in Winnsboro” released in the early days of the pandemic was featured in American Songwriter Magazine. The two latter songs are now formally released on the album in new versions.
About ‘Center of the Universe’:
Imagine yourself in a small rural village in Sweden. White-trimmed wooden houses that date back several hundred years are tucked in between the pines and birch tees next to the quiet lake where the sunlight glitters like gold on the gentle ripple. All around you, you can hear the buzzing of bumblebees, birds singing in the trees, and the sheep are grazing in a nearby pasture, surrounded by a hand tied willow fence.
This is Sulegång and it’s the place Sofia Talvik chose to record her new album ‘Center of the Universe’.
With a group of carefully selected musicians; Peyton Clifford and Drake Duffer on accordion, guitar, and mandolin (both hailing from North Carolina) and Janne Manninen on bass (from Sweden), she built up a studio in the living room of one of the old houses.
About the Songs:
‘Too Many Churches’ was written shortly after the overturning of Roe v Wade. Talvik takes on women’s rights to healthcare and their choice on motherhood versus that of religious beliefs. Talvik reminisces about the state of the U.S where many people are homeless but mega churches make millions of dollars, offering superficial assistance to those in need, if any help at all. “And you can talk about salvation, and what the Bible has to say, but there’s too many churches and too little love, in this world today”, she sings, putting a finger on the greater problem. The song was released as an acoustic version in September of last year and charted at no 3 on Folk Radio Charts in the USA.
‘Meanwhile in Winnsboro’ was written right at the very start of the pandemic, just before one of the last shows in Texas that Talvik was able to perform at before everything shut down. It started as a simple recording of the song with her good friend and musical companion; Tim Fleming, on pedal steel. She quickly released it during Lockdown and it was instantly picked up and celebrated by American Songwriter Magazine. As time has passed the song has matured into a full arrangement on the new album. A bittersweet revival as Tim sadly passed away of a heart attack mere weeks after the first rendition was recorded.
Talvik wrote two songs to commemorate Fleming; ‘Broken’ and ‘Oh California’, in which Talvik sings her praise to her good friend. ‘Broken’ strums at the heart strings with lyrics like: “You always cried when songs were sad, you made me smile when I was blue. I think you would have cried right now but now the tears are all for you”. While ‘Oh California’ offers a double meaning of both Fleming’s home state and also a metaphor for another life; “I always knew that you were meant to go, I just did not expect it this soon, with so many shows left to play before going back to California”.
In the title track; ‘Center of the Universe’, Talvik memorizes the thousands of missing US children, singing about all the photos of the Missing found hanging in Walmarts she witnessed on her last US tour. The song honors Hopi Native Americans’ traditions by sending a prayer of hope that the missing children weren’t abducted but rather ascended to the Tuuwanasavi, the Center of the Universe, and in so found peace.
The 70’s inspired protest song ‘Circle of Destruction’ is inspired by the Ukraine war and people searching for a new life in other countries than their own, with the lyrics “Standing at the border with a white flag in your hand, will the peace that we dreamed of ever come?”.
In the melancholy love song ‘A World Away’, Talvik is falling into a sad but soothing tale about two lovers held apart by growing distance but never in their hearts. Trying to bridge the distances, Talvik sings “If the ocean’s getting bigger, then find a bigger boat to sail and if the road is getting longer, then leave it for the forest trail”, suggesting there is always a way, to find the way back to one another, if you really want to.
In ‘Boy Soldier’, Talvik describes the fear and solitude of a young boy stuck in a domestic violence ridden home, bringing attention to so many women and children around the world who are unsafe in their own homes. This high energy track really cuts to the heart when Talvik raises her voice in the chorus “She has a space behind the closet, when it gets bad, she can hide you there”, a story that is all too common but much to seldom talked about.
Delving into folk melancholy -akin to fellow Swedes First Aid Kit-, and bluegrassy elements of Molly Tuttle, ‘Center of the Universe’ delivers Talvik’s own neatly packaged stories across its 10 stunning tracks. Dreamy accordion intertwines with bright mandolin, acoustic guitars and bass, creating an ideal foundation for the stark beauty of Talvik’s singular vocal work. As the album unfolds, she lures you into her world with stunning heft and grit, once again proving a master of her craft.
About Sofia Talvik:
Talvik has released 9 full length albums and countless singles and eps. She has performed at festivals ranging from Lollapalooza to SXSW. She has opened for Maria McKee and David Duchovny, and has collaborated with former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler, as well as Tobias Fröberg (Peter Bjorn and John), who produced her 2008 LP Jonestown. She has also released 2 albums in Swedish as part of the New Acoustic duo Hansan with German cellist David Floer.
Primarily a live artist, Talvik has taken her music across Europe and through 48 U.S. states, riding in her 1989 Winnebago Warrior with her husband and sound technician Jonas at the wheel, digging deep into the American sound and channeling it through her Nordic roots to create a singular brand of Americana. Talvik releases all of her music on Makaki Music, a record label she started early in her career to maintain full control over her own recordings. While her Swedish roots serve as the basis for her songwriting, she often calls upon her many journeys and experiences for inspiration, especially the uniquely American archetype of roaming the endless highway.
She is currently on a 4 month 50+ concert Tour of the USA.