A Dream within a Dream: The Music of Soley

Recently I stumbled into the strange netherworlds of the indie music videos posted on YouTube. Between obscure Snow Patrol epics and some soulful acoustic guitar tunes, I found Soley, an Icelandic singer and pianist whose music makes me feel like I’m floating on a cloud over top of Wonderland. Her music is sad, wistful, ethereal, and sometimes downright strange, but always beautiful.

Solely came onto the music scene independently in 2010 with her debut album “Theater Island”, although she can previously be found in the groups Seabear and Sin Fang.  She matured greatly in her song-writing capabilities with her most recent album entitled “We Sink”, released in September of 2011. Why it took me a year to find her, I don’t know. Why no one else seems to have heard of her, I do not know either. So I am about to fix this grievous error, and introduce to you officially: Soley Stefánsdóttir.

Iceland’s newest up-and-comer, Soley

To give you an idea of what her sound is like, you should know she was heavily influenced by another Icelandic band, Sigur Ros. Soley relies heavily on just her own voice to build momentum in her songs, but also uses light electronic riffs and strange drumming techniques (best described as a cross between North American First Nations drumming and two wooden spoons being clacked together). It sounds odd, but comes together in a very pleasing fashion.

The album cover for Soley’s “We Sink”, 2011

The album begins with the lilting “I’ll Drown”, which begins slow but builds subtly until layers of Soley’s voice and odd use of instruments weaves together to create a dream-like crescendo. This technique describes most of her songs, to be honest, although they are all strung together differently. Perhaps the most polished song on the disc is “Smashed Birds”, although my favorite is “Pretty Face”. Her creative use of percussion in “Pretty Face” perfectly compliments her pixie-style voice. “Dance” is also another excellent tune, beginning mournfully and with a shade of dark overtones, but then picks up at the end with a lilting repeated line that often gets stuck in my head for days.

One look at the cover of her album and you will have an idea of what Soley’s music is all about. The strange use of photoshopped art smattered across her face gives her a mystical yet earthly appearance – on par with the music contained within. I highly recommend you give Soley a try.  Her music will become the soundtrack for your dreams.

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