When Sophie Auster was 8, she sang her first choir solo, “Rise Oh Children Rise,” in front of the entire third-grade class. As she tells it, one girl’s terror was another girl’s treasure: The thrill of performing, and an early exposure to soft-rock classics (“I was always listening to Neil Sedaka and Connie Francis with my Tisch School babysitter”) led the Brooklyn native down a natural singer-songwriter path. Now Auster, 27, has released her second full-length album, “Dogs and Men” (Out Loud Music), comprised of 11 songs that meld sultry, folksy vocals with soul- (and teeth-) baring lyrics, a stylistic trademark that’s drawn comparisons to Fiona Apple and Gillian Welch.
The title references a strong split in subject matter: dogs for dream imagery and poetry; men for her first wrestle with heartbreak. “I was struck by how pure the pain was. You get sad, and then you get angry,” she says, describing these studio sessions as a form of self-therapy.
Take “Bad Manners,” a song about revenge. In both the lyrics and the Beastie Boys-inspired music video, which premieres exclusively here on T, Auster creates satire from an annoying stalker situation, starring as both the tear-streaked, hysterical ex-girlfriend and a trio of stereotypical male types (the playboy, the artist, the hipster). “It wouldn’t have the same effect if it was a girl chasing after some handsome guy,” she explains, “I wanted everyone to be ridiculous, so it evens the playing field on the whole sex thing.” A considerable thought coming from the daughter of two equally prominent writers, Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt, who she admits give brutally honest feedback on her work. As to whether she has any literary ambition herself: “Maybe when I’m an old lady, I’ll want to write a book. Never say never.”