Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison no longer falling apart these days

The musician, who visits the Athenaeum Theatre for a concert tonight, stakes out sunnier ground on new pandemic-era single ‘Shotgun’

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Nashville musician Sophie Allison records and performs as Soccer Mommy.

“Circle the Drain,” one of the standout tracks off of the 2020 Soccer Mommy album Color Theory, is among the sunnier songs you’re likely to hear about a person completely falling to shambles. “I wanna be calm like the soft summer rain on your back,” Sophie Allison sings optimistically as the tune opens before crashing back to Earth in the next breath. “But everything just brings me back down to the cold hard ground/And it keeps getting colder.”

Even as Allison spirals downward, however, infected with a head-spinning sadness, the song continues to arch skyward, building on cleansing waves of guitar and a warm vocal melody that plays an effortlessly sunny counterpoint to the Nashville musician’s depressive words.

“I love playing with that contrast,” said Allison, who brings Soccer Mommy to the Athenaeum Theatre for a concert tonight (Monday, April 4). “Putting darker lyrics with lighter music can feel really weirdly uplifting. When you hear a song like that, it can feel very connecting. … I also just think that dark, sad songs don’t always have to be so blunt about the darkness and the [heavy] emotions contained within the lyrics.”

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Allison released Color Theory in the weeks before the coronavirus pandemic shuttered the touring music industry, obliterating a string of dates and leaving the musician scrambling to regain a sense of footing amid the ensuing pause. 

“When everything did stop, we didn’t know how long it was going to be. … So, when things got canceled, it was obviously a little bit shocking,” said Allison, who also embraced the time at home following a stretch of years in which she lived largely on the road, ping-ponging between rock clubs in a tour van. “I think for me, for one, it was a really great time not just to write songs, but to get excited about messing around on the computer and making demos, which definitely inspired me to write a lot. I guess I’m more of an introverted person, in general, so not being able to go out and be around a lot of people didn’t really affect the level of my creativity.”

The results of these COVID-era writing sessions will surface later this summer when Allison releases the third Soccer Mommy LP, Sometimes, Forever, which was produced by Oneohtrix Point Never and is due out June 24 via Loma Vista. First single “Shotgun,” which you can listen to below, finds the musician staking out decidedly more hopeful ground, the chorus conveying a sense of weightlessness despite the sometimes-crushing load of recent years. “‘Shotgun’ is all about the joys of losing yourself in love,” Alison said in a press release accompanying news of the forthcoming record.

“I don’t only want to write music that’s really sad, even during the pandemic,” Allison said. “When I’m writing songs, I’m writing for me. The goal isn’t to create something that is going to have some sort of effect on anyone. It’s just writing something that I like, and then going with it.”

Allison said songwriting has existed in this way for her from childhood, serving less as a way of processing her world than a force of habit, comparing it with other hobbies a person might take up, such as knitting. “It’s just kind of a thing I do for fun,” she said. “Sometimes I’ll write a song and it won’t have anything to do about how I feel.”

“For me, it’s always been that way. And even after I started doing music for a living, it hasn’t changed anything with how I write. … To me, it’s still just the same as when I was in high school,” Allison continued. “I try not to think about it in the bigger picture, or about writing something other people need to hear or anything like that. That’s not how I write, and it’s not even how I view myself. It’s just writing whatever songs come out for me, getting in the studio and recording them, and then putting them out so you can hear it.”