Hailing from Rotterdam in The Netherlands, singer-songwriter Sophia lays it all bare on her debut album, Fragile — a walls-down, neo-soul effort that tackles everything from heartbreak to family abandonment across nine tracks. For fans of Victoria Monet, Sophia's independent release pulls from her classical piano background and arrives in the wake of "having a very turbulent year."

"The album is called Fragile, because I am. The songs are fragile too," Sophia says. "I've never been this honest in my entire life and it scares me to share everything with the world. But I have found during this process that there is strength in being fragile and vulnerable. It takes courage to be fragile."

Through it all, Sophia hopes her music will validate listeners in their emotions, both good and bad. "We don't have to be strong all the time, we’re allowed to cry, we’re allowed to not be ok," she continues, underscoring intimate songs that put her vocals on display and allow her space to really dig deep.

Below, Sophia brings PAPER through Fragile, track by track.

"Fragile"

This poem actually was the beginning of the entire album. I was sitting behind my desk, playing a few chords and the words just came out. When I played it back, I realized that it was the start of something new. I wanted to be vulnerable and fragile in everything I'd make from that moment on.

"Questions"

This song means everything to me. When you lose someone, you have to grieve, but I don’t think anyone really knows how to do it. I still had so many questions I never got to ask. I didn’t even want to think about grieving. Writing this song helped me let go of a lot of these questions that kept haunting me. Also, a song like this could’ve really helped me get through. I hope this song can provide that for others going through a similar situation.

"Lifeline"

I never loved you, I just wanted you to love me. "Lifeline" is about waiting for that one unreachable person to tell you that you’re the one for them. It’s about wanting approval when you know it’s never going to happen — a bit self-destructive some might say [laughs]. Anyways, in the end I realized the person I was waiting for was an asshole and that I don’t need anyone’s approval to be loved.

"We Can't Work This Out"

When trust gets broken, it’s hard to repair. In this particular case, it was just one too many times. I sat with myself and explored every option to make it right with them, but it was simply too late. We can’t work it out anymore.

"Ass Out = Trash Out"

I signed a contract with my ex-manager. He turned out to be a fraud and a stalker. Not only did he do this to me, but to a lot of other young artists, as well — especially young women. He messed with the wrong girl, though. Because I never give up and I fight for what’s right. This song is my sweet victory melody.

"Tightrope"

This was the last song to be written for the album. When all the other songs were done, I looked back on them and realized how much I had gone through. I see myself as a fighter and a survivor, but I never learned how to just live. "Tightrope" is the moment when I realized that it’s about finding a balance and that I’m not yet great at it [laughs].

"Strong For Two"

I’d be nothing without my friends. They made me stronger than I was before. I wanted to return the favor by letting them know I’d always be there for them and hold them up when they need me to. Because I’ve gotten strong for two.

"Number 1"

I fell in love, hopelessly, with one of the good ones this time. I wanted to celebrate that, because it’s the best feeling in the world.

"Goodbye Lullaby" feat. Lizzy

Saying goodbye to all the bad people in your life. Getting rid of that energy. Lizzy is such a talented writer and vocalist, she came up with the idea for this one. She initially wrote it for me, but when I heard her voice on it I was like, "Girl, we gotta do this together." So we finished it together and voila. Fun fact: the harp was recorded by Remy van Kesteren, one of the most brilliant harpists of our times.

Photography: Rebecca Weltner
Styling: Carolijn Hooij
Makeup: Anne de Bruin