Premiere: Sophia St. Helen Wants You to Shoot Your Shot in New Single “What the Heart Wants”

What The Heart Wants - album art
What The Heart Wants - album art
With her new single “What the Heart Wants,” Bay Area singer/songwriter Sophia St. Helen finds strength in simplicity.
Stream: “What the Heart Wants” – Sophia St. Helen
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Bay area singer/songwriter Sophia St. Helen’s new single “What the Heart Wants” is a drowsy midday half-dream, the kind where reality merges with fantasy and, on waking, leaves you heavy with longing for something you can’t quite remember. St. Helen grew up in one of the world’s great centers of music, San Francisco, but started her wanderlust phase early, leaving for Europe at 17 and finding her way to The American College of Greece. One can only assume that Sophia St. Helen’s namesake reflects this Grecian heritage as an influence on her songwriting, but either way this rising singer-songwriter demonstrates some refined chops in “What the Heart Wants.”

What The Heart Wants - album art
What The Heart Wants – album art
Ooh boy in your bomber jacket
With the paisley pattern — indigo
And blue ripped jeans with a
distressed t-shirt that’s cream

With red trim ‘round the neck and sleeves
Magnetizing crooked smile
Tantalizing me
Ooh trouble, I’m in trouble here
Look away my heart rate’s rising
from your mesmerizing stare

Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “What the Heart Wants,” the latest single off Sophia St. Helen’s upcoming debut album None the Wiser, out May 1, 2020. St. Helen channels an inexorable warmth on “What the Heart Wants” – the track begins with guitars lying low and lush, paired with minimalist drums and a bass that serves as a complementary low end to St. Helen’s intangible vocal performance. The distorted “oohs” serving as the verse’s introduction have the distinct flavor and crunch of a Fantasies era Emily Haines on “Satellite Mind,” where St. Helen’s delivery during the verse-proper and the chorus stands on its own as a jaunty fusion of R&B and indie rock, cut with a laid-back drawl befitting the tracks dreamy atmosphere.

Sophia St. Helen © Jenny Rigou
Sophia St. Helen © Jenny Rigou

Lyrically, St. Helen finds strength in simplicity. Because of the song’s intangible composition, the instrumentals melt into the background and give St. Helen ample space to stand out and paint her lyrical picture. “Ooh boy in your bomber jacket/With the paisley pattern — indigo/And blue ripped jeans with a distressed t-shirt that’s cream/With red trim ‘round the neck and sleeves,” she sings. St. Helen’s imagery is crisp and sonically legible, and the extreme specificity of her language ties her more to confessional poetry than songwriting.

Wanna run my fingers through
that curly, coffee colored hair

How to resist touching
those lips when they’re in reach

It’s just not fair
I should tell you to go
But I can’t help moving closer

The timbre of St. Helen’s voice matches well with the themes she addresses as well. During the verse, her voice oozes desire, laced with the faintest pained regret. In her own words, the song is about “falling in lust with a new person shortly after a breakup and half-heartedly trying to resist the temptation to pursue them.” One senses that half-hearted restraint in how palpably her descriptions override it. At a base level, “What the Heart Wants” is a song about the excitement of having a new crush after a breakup, the sense of freedom and potential it brings to feel pure desire again.

Stopping there, though, misses the forest for the trees – the ultimate thematic resolution of the song happens in the chorus. St. Helen’s vocal delivery changes dramatically as she sings a creamy, “The heart wants what the heart wants/what the heart wants/what the heart wants/what the heart wants/what the heart wants/what the heart wants.” Her voice loses its edge and its lust, and resolves in forgiveness. St. Helen also plays with this dichotomy in the last repetition of “what the heart wants,” placing this motif over a bluesy minor that completely changes the flavor of the words – only to resolve beautifully in the original sunny, dreamy major.

Sophia St. Helen © Jenny Rigou
Sophia St. Helen © Jenny Rigou

The chorus flows like water and with St. Helen singing the titular line in a rolling three-over-two hemiola feel that gives the sense that her emotions are cascading and she is giving in, listening to her heart, letting the momentum of the moment carry her. Such connection between her lyricism and musicality is a big endorsement for St. Helen’s songwriting chops.

“What the Heart Wants” is a dream, a gentle, sun-kissed breeze through lace curtains above a European boulevard.

Let its lush atmosphere and cascading melodies draw you in and hypnotize you. Sophia St. Helen’s debut album None The Wiser is out May 1, 2020!

Stream: “What the Heart Wants” – Sophia St. Helen
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What The Heart Wants - album art

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? © Jenny Rigou

:: Stream Sophia St. Helen ::

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