Sophia Nadia, aloft on a Reston, Virginia garage rooftop, was holding her acoustic guitar, working through new songs that would be the material for Richmond favorite, Cold Beaches’ https://www.facebook.com/coldbeachesmusic next release, when a security guard came walking by. “You can’t do that,” he said. Nadia reasoned with Officer Sourpuss. “Ya’ know what?” he yielded, “You can stick around actually, you look like a little rooftop honey up there.” And that’s how Cold Beaches named their most recent album.
And in the end, the interaction for which Rooftop Honey is named is sort of symbolic to how the album reads – not lowering yourself, not conceding to what others want out of you.
Rooftop Honey is Nadia’s second release under Cold Beaches, the moniker for her music which features a rotating cast of collaborators. After gracing the Richmond music scene for some time, Nadia brings the vibes of the field into the lab when recording Rooftop Honey.
“Aching was a very intimate and personal record I think,” Nadia says of Cold Beaches’ first album. “But I don’t think our shows reflect it.” “I think Rooftop Honey is more representative of the vibe that we actually have in our performances and as a band, so definitely this record is, I think, directly reflective upon that energy that we have at our shows.”
In terms of lyricism, indie rock is often the place for either vague, boundlessly applicable platitudes, or self-righteous, excessive convolution. Rooftop Honey has all the accessibility of the former while still giving a potential for engaging with the words under the surface.
One of my favorites, lyrically, on Rooftop Honey is “The Road”. Featuring washy rhythm guitar with a slide lead playing a beautiful melody that so slightly flirts with tension, Nadia sings in the chorus, “He’s got his money in his hand and his phone in the other/Sitting on the couch and hanging with his brothers.”
First of all, in the context of the song, it’s clear Nadia has a sense of rhythmic sensibility to her lyricism – a faculty often forfeited for verbosity. The prose is brief and open-ended and so too feels the vocal melody.
In the last verse Nadia sings, “I don’t wanna get too close to you/Why do I feel like I have to?/I don’t like all the things you do/Why do I feel like I have to?” leading after one more chorus into an outro where the refrain, “why do I feel like I have to?” is repeated with more fervor.
This is one of those punctual lyrics that sends shivers with it’s honesty. What makes great “empowerment” music is its balance of pride to honesty.
When it comes down to it, empowerment songs often ignore the complexity of emotions. What Nadia’s lyrics depict is self-worth that is still validated in weakness or strength. That honesty is palpable in songs like “The Road”, while songs like the opening track, Boring, bear the other side of the coin. Boring is pop-rock, dance jam that’s a total snuff to the prospect of being the fulfillment of another’s self-interest, condemning “the man who thinks he’s exactly what I need,” or the man who only talks about himself – “you keep on talking but you’re being a bore.”
“Rooftop Honey is more ‘yeah everything is ya know alright,’” said Nadia. “It’s about me moving to Chicago and leaving Richmond and kind of the bittersweet feelings I get from that but at the same time I think it’s a good encouragement record for people to kinda do what you wanna do and follow your dreams, in that corny sense.”
Rooftop Honey is stylistically diverse, balancing the dreamy pop songs like “Try Me” with the ballad-esque sweetness of “Ten Thirty-One”.
The album was recorded in Nadia’s home studio in Richmond and Chicago with Theo Caen of Knowhere Presents and Barrett Guzaldo of Treehouse Records and was released on April 10.
Cold Beaches is currently on a national tour with Connor Wood, of 3 Legged Dog on drums (with a few Canadian dates thrown in). After the tour, Nadia settles down in her new home of Chicago but will without a doubt find her way back to a Richmond stage, basement, or living room to tear it up in the future.
Words by Greg Rosenberg. photo courtesy of Grizzly Ground