Born in Toronto in 2004, Sophie Powers can’t recall life before music. Since the age of two she’s been going to the symphony in her city, and each summer she attended a music camp in Florida where she developed her voice and learned to play guitar. Before turning 10 she wrote her first song, an imaginative attempt to conjure the adult feelings of romance she called “Love Is in the Air.”

At the same time, Powers was navigating middle-school cliques that felt more like cults than friend groups and a young adulthood infiltrated completely by social media. Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok. The apps come with built-in pressure to perform for your friends and strangers, to let yourself be surveilled, to turn your self-image over to the whims of others. It’s a strange, confusing way to grow up, and we don’t really have rock stars who understand this hyper-contemporary experience.

Who am I and how is that girl different from this virtual profile?, Powers wondered. In music she found her answer.

In the midst of quarantine she decamped to Los Angeles, living away from her parents for the first time in her life with a group of musicians. “In Toronto, I had my parents and friends constantly giving input and telling me what they think about my life. But in L.A. I was left alone with my thoughts. It got quiet.”

In that quiet, she understood her real goal: to express herself honestly. “I started writing songs about teen relationships, depression, anxiety—with no sugarcoating,” she says. In earlier attempts at music, she’d try to sing from the vantage of a fictional character, imagining a life beyond her own. Not anymore.

“Music was my outlet during some really dark times,” Powers says. “If I can be that outlet and help other kids navigate what I went through, that’s all I want as an artist.”

She asserted herself in the studio. Inspired by sounds she encountered during her walks around LA—she can’t drive—she brought new ideas to her producer and made beats with him. “I’d record a dog I’d heard barking, or a sound I’d heard playing [the video game] Minecraft, and we’d sit alongside each other and create the beats together.” This collaborative approach gave her songs even more authenticity.

“U Love It” opens with a synth line that lurches like a rebooting robot before massive drums and crunchy guitars escalate the track. It’s an expression of pure self-confidence and the thrill of knowing that everyone around you wants to get closer to you.

“That’s the person I present myself as,” Powers admits. But it’s only one side of her. The single “Lonely Army” is the perfect complement to the strut and swagger of “U Love It.” The first thing the listener notices is how strong her voice sounds against a single electric guitar riff. “Can you hear the feelings of the lonely?” she sings, describing a world that feels hopeless and stifling. Family is demanding and friends are unreliable.

“We feel like we’re so connected to our people through our phones, but everyone's really lonely,” Powers says. Contemplating this during the height of the pandemic made her “brain explode” and she channeled that revelation into an anthemic power ballad. It’s a song to get you through the long nights that ultimately leads you to the hope of all these lonely people feeling vulnerable together. We’re all linked, as the outro musically conveys. Powers sweetly sings, “We can be together: lonely army” as her multi-tracked vocals accompany her in the background. The moment conjures the power of many voices and demonstrates the force of her authenticity.

Sophie Powers is the unfiltered and uncompromising voice of a new generation.