“I remember I would feel a pang of sadness when I would open my closet and see my old guitar, or hear the kids bang on the piano. Music felt like it was in my past, and I just tried to block it all out,” says singer-songwriter Angela Soffe.
But Angela couldn’t block it out. In her time of need, at the precipice of an empowering transformation, the music called out. The songs on the Yakima Valley-based artist’s latest are the result of a darkness-into-light narrative, and mark a brave return to music with a personal, revelatory, and, ultimately, empowering folk-pop album.
Today, Angela is a galvanizing speaker, and soulfully rousing musical artist, sharing an uplifting story of recovery. Her platform is one of female empowerment, and establishing healthy mental health habits to create a life of purpose and joy. In what felt like a former life, Angela was a gifted artist who elegantly fused American roots music with a sophisticated pop sensibility. In her first music career era, she recorded albums, toured the US, and earned local radio spins and prime synch placements in religious movies and documentaries.
Her latest album documents the many stages of an awakening, including the difficult consequences of making brave life changes. The weighty topics are exquisitely offset by soothing musicality—an amalgam of folk, bluegrass, and touches of new age and classical music. The album sits nicely alongside works by Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Natalie Merchant, Mat Kearney, and Ben Rector.
Angela comes from a richly diverse cultural background. She was raised in the Philippines, but her father was American and her mother was raised in Argentina. She grew up speaking English, Spanish, and Tagalog, surrounded by Filipino and international friends. Her family was devoutly religious, and Angela would spend much of her life dedicated to the faith. Her passion for music came from classical piano. She would later hone her chops in college aiming for a degree in classical piano, but, tired and exhausted from the rigors of formal study, later switched majors to Journalism. Interestingly enough, Angela became more of true musician after freeing herself from pursuing classical piano. This was a halcyon era for her as she fell in love with folk music and began actively performing and composing. The crest of this creative wave was releasing her debut solo album, Sand & Rain in 2010.
Upon its release, Angela moved to Washington DC and hunkered down into raising a family. It was a painfully complex time for Angela as daily she weighed the joy of a husband and three kids against the longing to be creative as a musician. In her mental framework, the two senses of self couldn’t coexist.
There was also deeper battle going on within Angela as she began to realize her religious foundations were no longer a positive force in her life. She made the bold decision to severe ties with the institution. At this time, she steadied herself through the turbulence by writing songs and journaling. These seeds of survival blossomed into her latest album.
Angela’s epiphanic album is rife with the costs and rewards of courageous life decisions. “When go through something really hard like this, it feels like you’re sunk in the valley, but, in reality, you just climbed on top of a mountain. It’s a launching pad—you now have the ability to make choices,” says Angela. “I see this particularly as a message to mothers. We sometimes think it’s selfish to pursue the gifts we’ve been given, but, if you set an example and do it, you give your children permission to do the same thing in their lives.”
Highlights on this soulful journey of an album include “Rocks,” “Freedom,” and “Second Wind.” The titles alone have a poignant literalness. The album’s first single, “Rocks,” uses the visceral imagery of being stoned as a metaphor for the pain of the onslaught of judgement after an individual makes a brave break with an insular community. “Rocks” confronts this onslaught with dreamy Americana, exhibiting a spiritual centeredness amidst emotional and communal turbulence. “I wrote that song after I confided in friends my feelings about leaving the faith. They said they couldn’t be friends with me anymore. I sat on a mattress I had on the floor crying and wrote this song,” shares Angela. The album’s second single, “Freedom,” is an ethereally beautiful anthem of reclaiming the self. The third single, “Second Wind,” is a delight of stylistic diversity, synthesizing gentle folk, pastoral country, and strains of blues, bluegrass, and rock into a singular sound. It’s a rousing track that signals the beginning of a new life.
The album’s ten songs are delicately orchestrated with a prismatic blend of instruments, including crystalline piano, folk guitar, chiming electric guitar, and sweet mandolin. Throughout the album, Angela’s voice exudes a sweet emotional grace at the intersection of defiance, wonderment, longing, and vulnerability. The album was produced by Seattle-based producer Andy Park whose credits include Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Vendetta Red, among many others. Angela has also built a band around the album, The Angela Soffe Band. The band has garnered accolades and awards for performances brimming with understated roots music virtuosity, and boundless creativity.
Angela’s story has a happy ending. She lives in Yakima, WA with her husband, three children, and four chickens. When she’s not recording or gigging, Angela runs a small music studio where she teaches piano, voice, and guitar. Reflecting on her path, Angela says: “My mindset before was seeing life through a small hole in the wall, but, now, I have knocked down the wall and I have a panoramic view—anything is possible and there are fewer barriers to happiness.”
Angela Soffe's interview with Mormon Stories Podcast in Salt Lake City, Utah. May 17, 2018
“Yakima Valley-based singer-songwriter Angela Soffe has just released her new single “Rocks!” “Rocks” is a stunning piece of work that highlights Soffe’s powerful vocals and passionate songwriting. A soothing blend of folk, bluegrass, and touches of new age and classical music, Soffe fits in well with many of her inspirations such as Alison Krauss, Gillian Welch, Natalie Merchant, Mat Kearney, and Ben Rector. Angela Soffe is clearly ready to take on the world, and we can’t wait to see her do so. ”