Although this is the first time we have featured Sophie Janna as a solo artist on Folk Radio, she has made an appearance on these pages previously as one half of the Netherlands folk duo The Lasses when we premiered a song from their ‘Undone’ album.
This Friday, Sophie will release her new single ‘Wide World’ which she describes as a hymn for the modern age. She tells us that the song “…might have disappeared from my fingers altogether were it not for the pandemic… I had a baby last year and since my partner is half Spanish, the baby’s grandfather lives in Spain. When the first lockdown was over we wanted to show our baby to his granddad. But while we were driving from the Netherlands to Spain, we heard that the borders were closing. Since we were an hour away from Paris at that moment, I called my (musician) friend Niko, whose parents live in Paris, to see if we could stay there for the night. We ended up staying for a week instead, and while Niko’s parents were looking after my baby son, I recorded this song with Niko and his girlfriend Jakes! Niko and Jakes have a recording studio in Oxford but happened to be in Paris at the same time as we. Together we turned this song to a lullaby (perhaps because of my baby sleeping most of the time?)”
Lyrically, Wide World “…is about not daring to tell someone that you love them. I’ve always been scared to express how I feel and I’ve spent most of my life so far pretending to be stronger and more independent than I really am. Only in music, I dare to show my emotions. With this song, I tried to tell someone what I didn’t dare to say out loud: that I wanted them to stay with me, preferably forever, and not to go home to their own country.
“I was feeling all this and picked up my guitar to play a traditional song that I love – I’m a folk musician and I often play songs that are more than a hundred years old. Singing such old love songs gives me comfort because they remind me that so many people before me have felt the same way. But when I strummed the first few chords of the song I intended to play, other words came up and formed this new song instead.”
American jazz singer and songwriter Gregory Porter, when talking about what makes a good lullaby, also noted “A lullaby can also be a great way to give parents their voice and reflect inner feelings as they talk about knowledge and experiences they want to pass on.” Wide World is steeped in such a rich warmth of emotion, it could only have come from deep within…it’s impossible to resist – a lullaby for all ages.
Be sure to share and add it to your playlists when it’s released on Friday on all streaming platforms.
Sophie Janna fell in love with traditional folk music in Edinburgh and took that love back with her to her hometown Amsterdam, where she kept going to folk sessions at the Irish pub Mulligans. In 2014, Sophie released an album with eleven traditionals, which she recorded in Paris with Jack Durtnall and Nicholas O’Brien (Folkatron Sessions). Soon after, she started touring together with Margot Merah as The Lasses, singing traditional songs from the British Isles all across the world and recording four albums. As a songwriter, Sophie is very much inspired by the ballads from the Scottish and Irish folk traditions. Her first solo EP with original songs will appear in the summer of 2021. ‘Wide World’ is the first single.
‘Wide World’ will be available on all music platforms this Friday.
Photo Credit: Roosmarijn Broersen