“It was the cat-poles around the lake at his grandfather‚Äôs farm that inspired Ben Sollee‚Äôs debut album Learning To Bend. The frailty of those awkward looking plants standing stoutly against winds that challenged even the strongest of nearby trees is an affecting metaphor for human struggle and perseverance. This idea is central to Learning To Bend.”
Ben Sollee is that artist you keep in the clip for special people in your life. He’s that song on a mixtape that everyone always asks about after it’s given.¬† It’s the album that shifts among political, upbeat and fun, to sensitive so you can find something to relate to no matter what the phase of your life.
I first heard Ben from http://aurgasm.us.¬† Apart from my natural inclination to give any song with a cello a chance, the first song posted at Aurgasm had me hooked. It’s a remake of “A Change is Gonna Come”, originally a 1964 civil rights song by Sam Cooke, Sollee has turned it into an upbeat song about the war and the hope that a change is gonna come for America… Starting with a simple cello and vocal, when the drums and French Horn (?) hit, it feels like coming home to summers on a lake, surrounded by good friends and an intimate comfort.
The first track on the album, “A few honest words”, is a charming, slow, and plodding track that will immediately draw you in.¬† Speaking to the deceit of our current administration the track begins with, “If you’re gonna lead my country/if you’re gonna say that it’s free/I’m gonna need some honesty.”¬† The song’s slow and simple nature allows listener the chance to imbibe the somber reality of the lyrics.
Other highlights include the raucous “Bury Me With My Car” (When I’m gone / bury me with my car / cuz if anywhere is where I end up when I’m gone / I’m gonna need my ride to get around ), the dance inspiring “It’s Not Impossible”, and the sentimental “I Can’t”.¬† Sollee’s debut album leaves you wanting a private backyard concert, at times twirling among friends, at others watching the maestro play and taking in all that his music means… what they mean to us…