20 May 2008

Spam Filter: Ben Sollee

Arriving early for the Plants and Animals show at Mercury on a very wet Friday evening, I was fortunate to catch the majority of opener Ben Sollee's solo set. A "folk cellist" (my term, hence the quotation marks) from Louisville, KY who also performs with the Sparrow Quartet alongside Bela Fleck, Abigail Washburn and Casey Driessen, Sollee's plaintive and heartfelt performance was the perfect antidote to having just been pummeled by near-tsunami conditions. Besides, he absolutely shreds on the cello (and I'm jello baby).

Well it turns out Sollee just released a digital only EP this past week in advance of his solo full-length album Learning To Bend (out June 10th). The EP - If You're Gonna Lead My Country - premiered at #2 on eMusic behind In Rainbows and is also now available on iTunes and Amazon. As the title suggests, the subject matter is pretty much overtly political, and Sollee's caustic indictment of the Bush administration is nicely tempered by his honeyed delivery and dulcet cello work. However, listening to the recorded version I would have to say that the simple, unadorned live version I witnessed sans accompaniment (and particularly sans the sax I hear on the single which tips the scales slightly towards a Dave Matthews vibe) was far more effective and ethereal. So that being said, if you have a chance to catch Sollee and his cello live - and if you're planning on heading to Bonnaroo this applies to you - definitely do it.

Listen: "A Change Is Gonna Come"

Visit Ben Sollee on MySpace


7 comments:

Han said...

Thanks for posting this. I really enjoy voice and the accompanying music.

Anonymous said...

This guy was freakin amazin. Looking forward to seeing him on a New York stage again soon.

Emily said...

his cello playing is great! But overall this song sounds a little bit too JAck Johnson-y for me personally...I guess there's nothing wrong with a breezy pop song though....If you want to take the cello/rock thing a little further, check out Vincent Segall (Bumcello)

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