A squinch owl can be any great variety of things: in literature it is the title of a short story penned by Zora Neale Hurston, while in architecture a squinch is the device by which a square or polygonal room is transformed to support a dome.
For singer-songwriter Sofia Albam it is her musical moniker, and while the image of a squinching owl may seem to embody a creature that is fearful and shy, the voice of this artist is anything but a passing flutter. Composed of such brash aggression of a heartfelt nature rather than messy constitution, she plays accordion and banjo and is accompanied by a three piece band whose folk formats find themselves juxtaposed with the oftentimes, vocal punk urgency of their lyricist.
Homeward Bound, described as “seven songs to shriek and sing and laugh and love and dance to, if you want to”, is the last in a series of three EPs released via Bandcamp this year. Its Gothic folk quality and stark production are telling of its homemade characteristics and gritty narrative.
The instrumentation moves between the simplistic banjo plucked opener, “Meet Me There”‘s rite of passage, escapist “I didn’t really know where I was going/Just as long as it was right from here” to the eerie, heart-tugging of Maxwell Pertley Lysobey’s musical saw on break-up track “We Will Do Great Things”.
The 21-year-old, originally from New York State is blessed with a voice somewhat akin to the sisters of First Aid Kit, and bearing a similar simplistic honesty. However Albam offers a stripped down angrier, dragged through the dirt version, her music feeling all the more true for the removal any dignity and reservation she presents. With this voice there is no sense of uncertainty and that is what makes her such a compelling listen. She is in constant battle with her mind and her heart; from quivering openings to dams of emotion and tumults of impassioned vocals hers is a voice that makes a stance and one that’s hard not to take notice of.