Erika Olson’s debut album, This is How I Pray, infuses traditional folk elements with a modern twist, creating a sound that is both nostalgic and forward-thinking. With a voice that recalls the raw power of Brandi Carlile and the soulful depth of Tracy Chapman, and a songwriting style that evokes the likes of John Prine and Joni Mitchell, Erika Olson is a true force to be reckoned with.
At its heart, This Is How I Pray, reflects the struggle to reclaim agency after a life lived on society’s terms. From song to song Erika wrestles with what it means to take one’s own counsel, trust one’s own heart and follow one’s own intuition regardless of what everyone else says and does.
The album opens with the captivating “Mom Life,” a song that immediately grabs the listener’s attention with its infectious melody and message that is cunningly relatable to more than just the moms out there. From there on out, Erika lays out universal themes in deeply personal narratives, tackling everything from motherhood in the country-inspired “I Don’t Feel Like Fighting” and the folksy “Mamma Ain’t Got No Time,” mature love in the indie folk ballad “As I Am”, and heartbreak in the acoustic ballad “Wreckage” to institutional racism in her haunting acoustic song “Benefit of the Doubt.”
The title track, “This is How I Pray,” was written in 2020, when the entire material world we know stopped. But nature did not. She continued on as she always does to bring the world to life from its deep winter slumber. “I was stunned by the beauty unfolding in front of my very eyes, as snowdrops, daffodils, cherry blossoms, and apple blossoms emerged from hibernation for all the world to notice,” shares Erika. “I watched the forest floor erupt with a carpet of bluebells and gently recede as the canopy turned the air a thousand shades of green. As I watched the majesty of nature unfurl I realized, the spirituality of my childhood and my life couldn’t be contained within the brick and mortar walls of a church. I wrote this song as a homage to my parents, to faith, and to unending gifts of the natural world.”
This Is How I Pray is a bold statement of artistic vision, a debut that feels anything but, and a testament to a life if nothing but lived. With her unique blend of traditional folk elements and modern sensibilities, Erika has created a sound that is both timeless and timely. Debuting with a veteran-like confidence in her craft, from start to finish, it’s clear that Erika’s on a mission and that she is just getting started.