Sophya Baccini is a piano and keyboards player and vocalist and Aradia is her first album. She has been working as a session musician and is also the lead vocalist for Presence. She has worked as a solo musician before as well as guest musician on albums by Delirium and Osanna. Aradia has been released in 2009 through Black Widow Records in Italy in a digipack format with a booklet containing all the lyrics (sung in Italian, English and French) and the lineup.
I think this album could be a hit, had the circumstances been different. While it can be challenging music at times and demanding a longer-than-usual attention span, it is a gorgeous and ambitious piece of emotional and melodic melancholic songs. Sophya’s voice is beautiful and quite wide in range (from mid to high pitch). Her musical skills are of the same quality, if not higher.
There are 17 songs on here (the last song on the album is Circle Game by Joni Mitchell) but they are interconnected and feel as one flowing stream of music with various parts sung in Italian, English and French. Her articulation in French and English are good and clear, but for those sensitive to an accent in English and French singing, know that there is one here. The music itself is quite varied, from full and rich sounding pieces (La Pietra, Aradia, Al Ritmo Di Una Storia, Elide) to more intimate setting (How Good, Beware Beware, Ever Too Small, L’ennesimo No), from jazzy, folk and tango-influenced pieces (Will Love Drive Out The Rain, Nei Loughi) to rock (Al Ritmo Di Una Storia, Don’t Dream That Dream, Elide, When The Eagles Flied) to classical-oriented ones (Aradia), from some use of electronic effects (Adesso, Studiare Studiare, Don’t Dream That DreamTwo Witches and Doreen) to orchestral arrangements (Ever Too Small, Aradia). With not much in terms of percussion and drumming on the album (present in a few songs), the music is not at all boring, it can even be rhythmic and even propulsive at times. But there is indeed an abstract and atmospheric feel is predominant in the album, but don’t mistake that for lack of melody or direction; this atmospheric air is contrasted (or augmented) by beautiful songs that are more structured but use that basic charm and enhance it (such as Elide).
Sophya manages to convey in her own way much emotion and beauty. She does have a theatrical way of presentation in some of the songs here, especially in the more intimate songs, where it feels as if she’s singing right in front of me in some shady small venue on a dimly lit little stage. Her voice is dominant and serves fittingly the songs where she reaches the higher notes as well as the songs where her voice is mostly in mid-range where it holds a powerful form; indeed, she would be a great rock singer if she decided to go that way.
Some of the songs have an eerie and odd feel, while others have a more “standard” approach that is naturally easier to relate to, but not necessarily more attractive. I find the way she has constructed the album to sound as one continuous piece with various sections to be well done. It is a ~70 minute album but it passes quite quickly for me as I enjoy it so much, particularly due to its beauty, variety and sense of continuity.
To listen to Aradia for me, is to be taken to foreign landscapes, to be transported on the graceful wings of Sophya’s voice and the charm of her music. I find the best way for me to experience this album is in a mostly dark room late at night with headphones. The magic really comes forth in that setting.