Slept On Songs: Thea brings nostalgia and emotion to neo-soul music

Jan. 13, 2022, 6:20 p.m.

Welcome to “Slept On Songs”. In this column, you will find recommendations of songs and artists that you have never heard of but will undoubtedly love. Whether it be music released by an unknown artist last week or underrated songs from major artists that passed under your radar, this series will make sure you have your weekly dose of fresh indie music. 

Even with the diverse experiences each one of us brings, ideas of childhood often revolve around stories of fantasy and magic. This nostalgia and emotion is exactly what neo-soul artist Thea taps into through her music, specifically in her album, “The Land of Nod.” Thea Morgan-Murrell, popularly known by her stage name, Thea, uses her gentle and slow-paced musical style to create a kaleidoscope reminiscent of childhood. 

This record opens with the track “Inside Out.” The ambient noises of birds chirping instantly recreate the feeling of watching an old animated children’s movie. With the comforting combination of her rich voice and a warm piano, Thea introduces you to her world. The groove of the neo-soul sound and the R&B influence of the chorus makes for an incredibly loopable song. The next track on the record, titled “One Wish,” reminds me of “Steven Universe” songs written by Rebecca Sugar. Starting with isolated vocals, and joined by strings and piano as the later on, the track increases its depth as it progresses. Each song on this record is a flashback to a certain feeling we all have had as a child: being unoccupied and having the freedom to imagine worlds of magic and fantasy instead of real-life problems. The songs feature well-written lyrics and intricate additions of instruments such as the glockenspiel and harp to create this impact.

The third track (and my favorite on the album), “TwentyTwo,” steps away from emotional pondering on growing older. It looks back on the good times and hopes for a brighter future while highlighting the themes of maturity and growth. Each verse in the song emphasizes the idea of living in the moment and not worrying about the future, something that we all unconsciously did as kids. 

While talking about the album to Coup de Main magazine, Thea said, “When you’re a child typically your parent/guardian would read you a book before bed, leaving the child to fall asleep thinking/dreaming of goblins, fairies, dragons etc … translate this to adulthood — we have no bedtime story, we all go to bed thinking about real life problems, wishes and hopes.” Thea not only nails the feeling she’s trying to create but does so with the maturity of her poignant lyrics. The choice of instruments (harp and glockenspiel, to name a few) seem specifically curated to remind you of the songs you associate with your childhood. Combined with the lyrics, this instrumentation makes sure you lose yourself in a reverie, a sea of thoughts of the past. 

Thea is the perfect artist to listen to when you want a break from the hectic nature of everyday life. Her songs allow you to get lost in a world of your own. Her soft and soothing voice makes listening to each track an extremely memorable experience. With a driving emotional narrative that is bound to activate nostalgia, this record reassures listeners about the future while reminding them of the beauty in the present.

Editor’s Note: This article is a review and includes subjective opinions, thoughts and critiques.

Aditeya Shukla '23 is the Managing Editor for the Arts & Life section. He enjoys making indie pop music and watching Formula 1. Contact The Daily’s Arts & Life section at arts ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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