Annika Socolofsky

Don’t Say a Word

Latitude 49

New Amsterdam Records


This unapologetic profession of love and vulnerability is something I have felt denied all my life. And it’s time to reclaim it. These are love songs for the self. These are my feminist rager-lullabies for the new queer era.” – Annika Socolofsky


Composer/vocalist Annika Socolofsky works out a great deal of anger on her New Amsterdam recording Don’t Say a Word. She has described herself growing up as a “queer kid” being ostracized. That treatment has subsequently inspired her to examine all sorts of othering in society, from overt discrimination to the subtle indoctrination of lullabies. She is joined by longtime collaborators Latitude 49, a mixed chamber ensemble.


“Don’t you cry” begins with ascending echoing chants, each ending with a vibrating sob, subsequently explored in Socolofsky’s alto register. The title track opens with ominous instrumental pulsations. Socolofsky continues to examine vibrating tones, to which are added sneers and moans. These are then accompanied by glissandos, repeated string ostinatos, and reverberant sustained tones from the ensemble. Vocal sounds come to encompass fry and abstract use of language, with a broadening range. Indeed, Socolofsky’s voice encompasses everything from the chest voice chanting of the recording’s opening to high soprano lines controlled with the technique of a concert singer. The piece ends unaccompanied, with pensive reiterations of previous components of the vocal.


“Tinker, Tailor” and “Little Boy Blue” both interrogate nursery rhymes, with the aforementioned singing techniques and textual responses to the complex nature of childhood tales. My favorite of the songs is “Like a Diamond,” in which the singer intones warm phrases in one of the “love songs to herself” she has mentioned as a concomitant goal to the expression of her anger at the challenges for her younger self. Socolofsky’s anger is an identifiable and understandable emotion, but her love songs to herself can resonate with others too, and this is a generous gift. 


-Christian Carey