Friday, June 13, 2008

Ben Sollee

Ben Sollee is billed as a cello player, but his album Learning to Bend is anything but the stuffy music one might associate with the instrument. Ben was born and raised in Kentucky, and his style of playing the cello reflects the roots music one would normally associate with the geographic area. He fiddles, he plucks, he uses it as a percussive instrument. He makes it come alive in ways it wouldn't in its classical context.

That being said, the album really draws upon some classical forms of Americana; slow, thinking man's political folk (A Few Honest Words); quick, bluegrass energy (Buy Me With My Car); quite, delicate Irish tinged dirges (Bend); acoustic guitar strumming (Prettiest Tree on the Mountain), even a hint here and there of the classical influence the instrument originates with (Panning For Gold). Ben even tackles the classic Sam Cooke Civil Rights song A Change Is Gonna Come, adding a completely different tone to it.

Although Ben is young, his lyrics convey a well of wisdom, very similar to Brett Dennan (if you're familiar with him - if not, read here). Give the following two tracks a chance to show you what he can do with a cello.

Visit his website, his label Sona Blast! Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Brilliant! Cello is a beautiful instrument. Great to see it in a non-classical setting - Ben Sollee is to cello as Andrew Bird is to violin?

Anyway, you might like this excellent band from Sweden called Mockingbird, Wish Me Luck. I'm interning for the summer at the label that's just released their album Days Come and Go. Maybe give a quick listen if you feel so inclined. No worries, though.