Quarters for the Jukebox


Album—Learning to Bend by Ben Sollee

Learning to Bend
Ben Sollee‘s string driven debut is an inventive, refreshingly unique introduction, and one of the stronger entries of 2008. With Tobey Maguire looks and cello in hand, Sollee makes a playground of folk, soul, indie pop and bluegrass. Married within his plucked sounds, Sollee’s voice is a soulful rasp emoting tenderness just as easily as it does weariness. The rare gift in this voice is that the believability it conveys, is easily digested by the ear as a pleasant sound. World weary singers aren’t always listened to for their ability to carry a tune, but Sollee pulls it off, and this will only help with his appeal to a wider audience. This sound is integral to the album, as it revolves around the theme of human perseverance — “learning to bend” in the stiffest of winds. Sollee simultaneously acknowledges life’s hardships while empowering you with hope.

The album houses one of the most interesting interpretations of “A Change is Gonna Come” you’ve ever heard; “Panning for Gold” is genuinely moving; “How to See the Sun Rise” is a playful porch-step game … the album is a wonderful achievement. You can hear several of his songs on his Web site—check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: A Change is Gonna Come; A Few Honest Words; It’s Not Impossible; Panning for Gold; How to See the Sun Rise.

Worth listening, if you like: Andrew Bird; Elvis Perkins; Ed Jurdi; Amos Lee; Ben Harper; Damien Rice; Sufjan Stevens; early, early Tom Waits; Ray LaMontagne.

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In the Jukebox — June 10

In the Jukebox for this week (based off what’s new to me and listed alphabetically by artist; lots to check out):

  • Adele—19: The second coming (and soberer?) version of Amy Winehouse?
  • Alanis Morissette—Flavors of Entanglement: Alanis goes back to a harder sound with pounding rock and heavy electronic sounds topped off with appropriately placed curse words.
  • Bangkok Five—We Love What Kills Us: Album of growling, manic rock with just enough of a dose of music sensibility to keep it cleverly all together—mucho potential to shine.
  • Ben Sollee—Learning to Bend: Earnest and beautiful music that touches into folk, soul, blues and pop.
  • Dr. John—City That Care Forgot: Big band blues rock with guest appearances by Eric Clapton, Willie Nelson, Ani DiFranco and Terence Blanchard.
  • Emmylou Harris—All I Intended to Be: A little country, a little folk, a little adult contemporary pop … .
  • The Fratellis: Melodic indie rock from across the pond, this trio has been on the cusp of making it in the U.S. for awhile but haven’t quite taken root. This sophomore album only strengthens their case.
  • Jakob Dylan—Seeing Things: The Wallflowers’ front man debuts his solo career with an offering of simply arranged, yet moving songs.
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