Tuesday, June 10, 2008

free record #6: ben sollee 'learning to bend'

so one of the main people helping keep this scene alive is jeffrey smith of louisville, kentucky's crash avenue publicity. however, right in the middle of a move i started getting all these records in the mail from jeffrey and no way to review them as i was without internets. granted this is still the case but my boyo let me break into his place to get this up while he's at a 9-5. sweet!

right from the start ben sollee's 'learning to bend' let's you know this isn't going to be a typical record. 'a few honest words' burns slowly with the classically trained ben plucking his cello then glides into bowed playing with some fiddle and very not-typical percussion. also calling the president out on his horseshit (maybe) is a pretty ballsy move on your debut record. from there the record picks up steam and chills out along the way in all the right places with glorious help from abigail washburn and bela fleck and many many others. having written all the song except one ('a change is gonna come' is a reworking of the 1964 sam cooke tune) ben's lyrics are as talented as his cello playing. this album is teeming with influences from all over the map; classical, jazz, folk, americana, bluegrass, old r&b and is overflowing optimism. plus it's got a jaw harp! sweet! with a great pop sensibility this album is also as eclectic as they come. i wouldn't be suprised to hear any one of these songs to close out a coen brothers film. i also wouldn't be suprised to hear any of them songs on the radio as well. and not just sweet sweet npr either. the barnstorming good times that are 'it's not impossible' and 'bury me with me car' seem that they could have been conjured up by some toothless moonshiners in the backwoods of west virginia. but don't worry kids, this reocrd also has guitars on it too, like the slow strum of 'i can't' and the finger-picked 'prettiest tree on the mountain'. as a singer, the closest resemblence i can relate to would be james blunt, who i am just getting into as the same generous boyo has turned me onto him. if your familiar with james blunt, ben sollee's music is as sincere as james blunt's. which is not a bad thing.

so if you're not tired of the same old shit dropping out the major labels collective dirty twat, then by all means don't look into ben sollee, bury your head in the sand and wait for the next nickelback disaster. but if you are tired of the same old shit or you just have an appreciation for excellent excellent musicianship and clever wordplay then go buy this record and throw out your incubus records. well you should do that anyways, but i digress.


Name: Brandon Rowley said...

might have to hit this guy up if he really does rival blunt's sincerity. i've gotten addicted to blunt's live, non-billboard music after seeing the bedlam sessions dvd.

Anonymous said...

his music is wonderful, really sincere and artful, almost sparse but still rich. definitely a refreshing deviation from the mainstream.


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