Today, Cuban-born singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Soft Glas shares How Strange, an album about how time’s passing changes our relationship not only with our loved ones, but also with ourselves. The record unfolds like a personal journal as he explores the paralyzing fear of losing his parents, his own acceptance of getting older, and the transience of life. On How Strange, Soft Glas enters new sonic terrain drawing inspiration from jazz influenced instrumentation, Cuban-infused rhythms, and 2000s indie/emo rock. The title of the record comes from a poem by Cuban Poet Fina Garcia Marruz named “Ya Yo También Estoy Entre Los Otros.”
Soft Glas explains this about his new album:
“‘How Strange’ is an album about time. Compared to my other albums, it fittingly took the longest to make – yet feels the most inherently tied to where my heart is at this very moment. It’s both a labor of love and a product of fear. It acts as a therapeutic release and an existential crisis. Since I began working on it in 2018, it has taken many forms, but has always been driven by the haunting truth that time won’t ever stop passing – no matter how much I wish it did.
On ‘How Strange,’ I took on more challenges than ever before: I focused on my songwriting, leaned heavily on my voice, and explored new recording techniques. My collaborators and I prioritized the songs above all else. Recorded throughout the country (Brooklyn, LA, Boston, Miami, Coral Springs), we wanted to create a cohesive narrative while expressing it through diverse musical styles. I dedicate this album to my family, my partner, and my friends. I love all of you, and I’ll never stop being scared to lose you.”
How Strange kicks off with “Pool Steps,” which sets the mood for the album’s overall theme of time. The track represents an interval in Soft Glas’ adolescence reflecting upon a simple yet beautiful remembrance. Soft Glas recalls his high school days, coming home from his part time job, and chatting with his mom while in the pool. As time goes on, those moments turn into recollections and suddenly they’re in life’s rear-view mirror.
The Charlie Kaufman film “Synecdoche, New York” inspired Soft Glas’ next track, “Fraud.” It deals with the idea of ‘can love truly be completely selfless if our biggest fear lies in losing it?’ It’s a ruminating afterthought for Soft Glas on this upbeat, indie-rock driven anthem. “Prudence and Poise,” the second single off the album, takes his wide-ranging musical influences that includes Cuban rhythms and styles and combines it with his own dynamic resonance. With stark, lightly poetic lyricism and drifting beats, Soft Glas delivers something relatable and cathartic. Thematically, the song explores how things are often beyond our control and that finding a sense of direction comes with many unexpected turns along the way.
Listen to album here: https://independent.ffm.to/howstrange
On “Terrified (of Time) ft. Cautious Clay,” Soft Glas shares, “the song is written about the catch-22 that is looking forward to seeing your family/loved ones.” When visiting family, there are those times where you feel that you can wait and other times you can’t wait. It’s an internal tug-of-war and realizing that time does become more precious as you and those around you grow older. “Terrified (of Time)” serves as Soft Glas most experimental track off the album delivering delicate guitar melodies and calming synths along with smooth yet tender vocals from Cautious Clay. The track arrives today with a music video directed by Madeline Leshner (Barrie, MICHELLE).
“Half Your Size” uncovers Soft Glas demonstrating his deep admiration for his father. The beautifully constructed song plays like an ode to a dear friend, but also weighs heavily on Soft Glas’ mind. It’s a stark reminder that while his dad is his hero even heroes fade into yesterday’s memories. “Rust” dives into more indie rock sensibilities than other tracks. At its emotional core, “Rust” is about a significant lifelong friendship and experiencing those same growing pains of adulthood with your best friend.
“Cyclones,” the first single off the album, sits on the fringe of the bedroom-pop genre, with wistful, hazy instrumentals and jazz-infused guitar lines. Invigorated by vibrant yet serene melodies, the song is guided along with warm, yearning vocals. Narratively, “Cyclones” echoes the concerns of spending a lifetime in the mirror trying to pick apart all the things you couldn’t change about yourself.
“Confidence” is an aptly titled track dealing with the lack of self-assurance that one hopes to present to the world. A dazzling song that fits into the quintessential 2000s emo sound of fractious rhythms and plaintive vocals, “Confidence” signals the deep-rooted and repressed feelings of wanting to be anyone but yourself.
The shortest track at less than two minutes off the record is “Ring True.” Behind an acoustic guitar, Soft Glas touches upon being grateful for the people in our lives. It’s a minimalistic sonic approach as he leans on his observations from a conversation with a close friend on the meaning of loss and the invisible bridges we must cross in this lifetime.
The album’s finale comes in the form of “Gentle Roam.” For the track, Soft Glas drafted his father to play piano (a fitting gesture) along with musicians Alex Szotak on bass, Ryan Tullock on Flugel Horn, and Parker Mulherin on background vocals. The song travels to the emotional complexities of mortality and the wishful thinking of not leaving this earth alone. For such a poignant subject matter, Soft Glas crafted a tune with much grace and warmth as he pleads to have time come to a halt before the pain kicks in.
Purchase Soft Glas’ How Strange vinyl here.
Growing up Joao idolized his father, renowned jazz-pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, and dreamt of becoming a jazz musician himself. While music was ingrained in his DNA, Joao’s own journey wasn’t all that easy as he was denied acceptance to Florida State University’s College of Music. Disenchanted by this news, he shifted his attention in college to Psychology. Joao dealt with imposter syndrome while attempting to keep the dream alive of becoming a full-time musician.
After graduation, a spark ignited within. Joao picked up drumming again, relocated to NYC, and stepped into the role of music director and touring musician (Overcoats, Stalking Gia). Inspired by these experiences of working and touring with other artists, Soft Glas’ music explores everyday anxieties all of us tend to deal with. Soft Glas released his debut EP Dos in 2016 and since has released 2016’s Late Bloom, 2017’s Orange Earth, and 2020’s Stunned. He’s been featured on NPR’s World Cafe playlist, Spotify’s Bedroom Pop and undercurrents playlists and has garnered 9M+ streams across ~100K monthly listeners.
Joao Gonzalez is credited as the mixing engineer, post-production editor, and keyboard programmer on the 2021 Grammy nominated ‘Best Latin Jazz Album’ Viento Y Tiempo – Live at Blue Note Tokyo from Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Aymée Nuviola.