Premiere: Baba Sonya’s Haunting “Jeremiah” Is a Mourner’s Tragic Lament

Baba Sonya © James Kilker
A quietly intimate lament, “Jeremiah” captures both the melodic warmth and the emotional intensity of Baba Sonya’s artistry.

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The mourning process is long and arduous; there are no right answers or proper next steps, and you can’t quite understand what someone is going through until you’ve gone through it yourself. Talking and sharing helps – getting everything off your chest, whether or not you like what you say. Baba Sonya’s new song “Jeremiah” is a mourner’s lament embedded in the turmoil of loss.

It all comes down to time spent
And time you didn’t spend
Time we didn’t spend together
Time I didn’t spend with you
Influence we didn’t have on each other
Influence I didn’t have on you
Listen: “Jeremiah” – Baba Sonya

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Jeremiah,” the lead single off Baba Sonya’s upcoming EP nadila (out later 2018 via Flamenco Afterparty). The creative relationship of singer/songwriter Rachel Gawell and producer Mike Costaney, NYC’s Baba Sonya are the sort of act that can fill the room with a whisper. Exploring what they define as “thoughts of hope, loss, and existential uncertainty with jarring vulnerability and occasional levity” since 2015, the pair tackle difficult emotions head-on, often to an comfortably uncomfortable degree.

Nadila - Baba Sonya

Nadila – Baba Sonya

A quietly intimate song wallowing in despair, “Jeremiah” captures both the melodic warmth and the emotional intensity of Baba Sonya’s artistry as they slowly swallow the reality of a loved one’s death. Gawell’s voice is full of heartbreak and sadness as she sings plaintively of her loss. We feel the weight of her burden throughout this one-way conversation:

If you were lonely
I wish you would have told me
I mean didn’t you know me
You know I would have come
And fuck that stupid argument
Sometimes I’m a mess as well
But I wish you could
have told the difference
I wish you would have
let me know you were in Hell

“Baba Sonya is a relationship,” the duo shares. “We hope you can hear us connect in the music, encouraging and challenging each other, cooperating, clashing, and evolving.” The band reach their most activated point in their “chorus”-like upswings – the song’s most dressed-up moments, where Gawell’s guitar gains a bit of energy alongside a hypnotic percussion kit. Though the physical volume may still be low, Gawell’s haunting vocals resonate as she expresses all the feelings she needs to say:

And they tell me not to regret it
But I am going to regret it
I will always regret not reaching out to you

Anyone who’s mourned a loved one can relate to every bit of “Jeremiah.” We can never fully appreciate any life until it’s taken from us, and by then of course it’s too late. Baba Sonya aren’t trying to make up for lost time here; they’re not trying to repent or even ask for forgiveness.

Baba Sonya © James Kilker

Baba Sonya © James Kilker

And I know you never thought
You were beautiful
And I know grace was always other people
And you thought you had to try so hard
But if you were doing anything wrong
It was telling yourself that you didn’t belong
It was taking the noise on board and letting it hurt you

“Jeremiah” is a song of pure sorrow; of remorse without resolve. The singer blames herself for her friend’s untimely passing – as her lyrics progress, it become clearer that this is a suicide. Gawell’s tender voice rises and falls in passionate waves that refuse to ever peak or crescendo; instead, she flies just high enough for the music to resolve – and even then, we’re not allowed bask in that release. Baba Sonya dive right back into their depths, dwelling appropriately in a very dark, somber space.

Nothing hurts quite as much as this song’s ending. Ripping a page out of the Daughter playbook of quiet intimacy, Gawell drops back to a whisper as the song fades around her:

Oh my friend
I think I fucked this one up
I think I fucked this up
I think I fucked this up

Bittersweet and evocative, “Jeremiah” is a heavy-hearted attempt at catharsis – a reckoning of one’s personal demons in the face of death itself. Stream “Jeremiah” exclusively on Atwood Magazine!

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Nadila - Baba Sonya

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📸 © James Kilker

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Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com