Stepping away from the Green Line busking area and into the recording booth, “Surreal Estate” is the first recorded material from Somerville’s Sophia Belle despite having performed around the city for over a decade. The video, recorded with Revival House Records, is Sophia’s prize for winning a Lizard Lounge Open Mic challenge. As “Surreal Estate” is an exploration of identity and growth, it’s a fitting choice for their inaugural recording under their newly adopted moniker, Home Despot.

“Surreal Estate” began as an homage to a friend lost to addiction, which the track emulates with its simultaneous crispness and heaviness; the pain of loss is often hyper-clear and weighted. We’re brought into the scene of a funeral at the beginning, with a nod towards heroin overdose as the cause, as Sophia sings: “They say when the needle’s in/it’s a high that you want but already got for free.” They also repeat some variation of the refrain “all good gods have their day” throughout the song, which Sophia said is an effort to elevate the lives of the people we lost to unfortunate circumstances. “The people I knew who were just sort of swallowed by circumstances are gods, not ghosts.”

Impassioned and deeply personal, the track explores growing up and with a changing Boston, touching on themes of identity and the concept of home. “This song takes place across Boston, on the last green line car of the night, and over the Charles,” Sophia Belle explains. A moody guitar line propels the song forward with a bluesy feeling that speaks to the topics previously mentioned. The addition of a baritone saxophone, with a deep buzz and hum, and steady, looping bass “oozes a gritty city sound” because Sophia said,

About halfway through the song, Sophia belts out: “I swear to you/I swear I’m fine.” It’s the first moment of heightened energy in the track and its effect is palpable. Throughout the entire video, the band doesn’t break concentration from their playing and Sophia only occasionally glances directly into the camera. But the reassurance, after the confessional nature of the lyrical content preceding it, pulls us straight into Sophia’s headspace and leaves us questioning whether or not we actually are fine after such an emotionally taxing experience as losing a dear friend, whether it’s a person or in a city caught up in rapid gentrification.

Born and raised in Somerville, Sophia has seen Boston through many periods of growth. While rent prices skyrocket and longtime residents and businesses are lost to an influx of tech and other new industry, Boston’s creative community remains steadfast, and is one of the main reasons Sophia has stuck around. “I’m astounded by the resourcefulness of anyone who is able to create in such restrictive and expensive conditions. I have so much love and respect for my comrades in arts.”

“I’m secretly a control freak,” Sophia said, explaining the origin of the name Home Despot. “Not necessarily within my hometown (depends who you ask, though), but definitely within the home of myself. It’s an homage to that part of me.” They added that, to them, home is a sense of unconditional belonging and can often mean more than just a place name.

Home Despot can continue to be found playing live around the city, but also have plans to release more recorded material in the future; a welcome voice to share in an ever-changing, uncertain future. “Surreal Estate” is a powerful glimpse into the environmental and emotional impacts we sustain, with perfectly executed personal touch from Home Despot. They have plans for another single to be recorded and released in the near future, so stay tuned and go catch Home Despot out on the town some time.

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