Release date: September 30, 2022
Label: Outside in Music
SONICA, a dynamic trio featuring three of today’s most distinctive contemporary female musicians, includes GRAMMY-nominated vocalists Thana Alexa, Nicole Zuraitis and renowned first-call bassist Julia Adamy. The trio’s self-titled debut album is imbued with a sharp and unrivaled sonic power, capturing the allure of female collaboration over seven genre-bending compositions and arrangements - fully engineered, produced and mixed by Thana Alexa.
SONICA incorporates intricate vocal harmonies, electronics, vocal loops, percussion, electric bass and keyboards over a blend of original music and modern arrangements. Fusing jazz with elements of pop, soul and folk, the trio captivates audiences with each of its member’s unique ability to redefine American music. What started as a passion project on the heels of the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic launched into a debut production recorded and produced straight out of Alexa’s home studio in Queens. After forging a deep musical connection throughout years of collaborative performances, the three decided to unite on tape and document their musical connection with this recording.
Commencing fiercely with “Doyenne,” the French term for a woman who is the most respected or prominent person in a particular field, SONICA introduces their first collaborative compositional effort. In the spirit of Alexa’s personal mission to highlight sisterhood and the momentus drive that exists in the female spirit throughout her body of work, “Doyenne” includes a spoken word excerpt from a recording of women’s rights activist and abolitionist Sojourner Truth’s famous 1851 speech “Ain’t I A Woman” as well as the voices of feminist activist Gloria Steinem and Pakistani female education activist Malala Yousafzai. The associated music video, directed by Adamy’s brother, Wil Adamy, features three young female dancers who express feminine freedom, individuality and sisterhood through improvised movement.
Punctuated by the funky drumming of Adamy’s husband, special guest Ross Pederson, “Where Ya Gonna Go” was born from a simple groove recorded by Adamy and Pederson at the beginning of the 2020 lockdown. All married to drummers, SONICA built the groove into a full fledged song, the lyrics and melody of which provided some comedic relief to the circumstances of musicians and partners alike struggling in confinement.
Melding an ethereal three part harmony with purposely simplified piano and bass, Zuraitis’ arrangement of Bon Iver’s “Michicant” sets a melancholic tone, painting images that surrender to the uncontrollable and accept the imperfect for a contrastingly somber musical atmosphere.
“Michicant” is followed by a Zuraitis-original, “Come A Long Way,” telling the story of a child whose continued personal, behavioral and scholarly struggles become exacerbated from pandemic isolation. Maintaining the thread of mental health advocacy across her discography, Zuraitis introduces a repetitive lyrical statement here offering a motivational mantra that encourages self-reflection and perseverance in the rebellious. Zuraitis’ husband and GRAMMY-nominated guest drummer Dan Pugach provides an intense rhythmic dynamic representative of the in-between mindset and consequential moment of breaking free from negativity.
Adamy presents “Love’s In Need of Love,” a meaningful arrangement of the Stevie Wonder classic “Love’s In Need of Love Today,” which she began working on soon after the 2016 US Presidential election. With a conviction that the lyrical message was more pertinent than ever, she approached Zuraitis and Alexa, who together brought their expertly layered vocals to the fore. Continuing the record’s theme of conjuring change and focusing on what we can do to move forward, “Love’s In Need of Love” remains overwhelmingly positive.
The group’s fiery original composition, “Change It,” is a call to action on the climate crisis, featuring Alexa’s husband, four-time GRAMMY-winning drummer Antonio Sanchez. Imploring the world to confront change before destruction, the track grapples with acceptance as the first step toward healing, followed by action. “Change It” is a climactic moment on the record, engaging listeners with the question of whether we should change it or leave it the same.
The album finishes with the group’s arrangement of the Irish folk song “Danny Boy.” Inspired by a rendition on YouTube by Jacob Collier, Adamy wrote the original arrangement in remembrance of her grandfather, who often sang the song during her childhood. The heartbreakingly refined classic is blossomed by SONICA’s transformative vocal harmonies. The only song on the album recorded with vocals and vocal effects alone, “Danny Boy” is grounded in the beauty of emotional depth and supported by each fully-exposed voice.
Justifying the distinct truth that the harmonies of human voices are some of the most powerful sounds on Earth, SONICA’s debut statement is an emulation of togetherness and human connection. Across seven thought provoking soulful tracks Thana Alexa, Nicole Zuraitis and Julia Adamy continue to replicate the delicate feelings of life through sound all while calling for reevaluation, pleasure and change in the surrounding world.
NEW YORK CITY JAZZ RECORD
"The recently formed trio SONICA—singer/ instrumentalists Julia Adamy, Thana Alexa and Nicole Zuraitis—offer uplift and encouragement on their eponymous debut.." Read the review in the September 2022 issue of New York City Jazz Record here.
"..the irrepressible artist would emerge stronger and more reflective. Ahead of her set at this year’s Newport Jazz Festival, Alexa shared the story of a tour deferred, the production of a new release titled SONICA that’s due out in September and the lessons ONA continues to teach her." Read Thana Alexa's full interview here.
"..such thematic material's delivered enticingly in the form of alluring vocal display, infectious performances, and strong song choices." Read the complete review here.
"There’s an undeniable magnetism to this session from vocalists Thana Alexa and Nicole Zuraitis and bassist Julia Adamy." Read the review in the Best Jazz on Bandcamp for September 2022 here.
"Ear-catching arrangements, an eclectic song list and exemplary musicianship – all superbly engineered, produced and mixed by Alexa.." Read the 4-star review in the November 2022 issue of Jazzwise Magazine and online here.
"Consciously fashionable, the trio follows contemporary production throughout.." Read the review here.
"The formidable female front line of vocalists Thana Alexa/key, Nicole Zuraitis/key and Julia Adamy/b mix passionate harmonies that trade off with leads on a wide ranging collection of originals and interpretations." Read the review here.
"The lush vocal sounds and their blissful blend frequently become the most rewarding element. The overall effect can be intoxicating, dreamy and sumptuous, making what they're singing (or singing about) seem secondary." Read the full review here.