As a freelance writer for the Home Grown Music Network, I get funneled tons of quality releases from fresh new artists all the time. With such a vibrant and constant transfusion of discs, my play lists on the Ipod are constantly updated and morphing. I recently got the opportunity to review Sol's "Freedom" for HGMN, and it has proved to be one of the more stellar releases I have reviewed this year. I picked the album as a monthly "Staff Pick" in March and the album has stayed in play throughout the last few months. The album displays a confident and well-executed take on soul, reggae, rock, and most importantly, blues. Sol is, after all, an artist affiliated the Music Maker foundation, a group founded by Tim Duffy to preserve and maintain the heritage and legacy of blues.
Sol performed at Sixth and Vine on Friday, June 25th in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The drive from Greensboro went smoothly, and we got to Sixth and Vine before music started. Sol was on stage, plucking lightly on his guitar, and chatting with his band mates. Two local blues players were offering their chops on drums and bass, proving to be the newest, and a quite excellent, version of "Funk Root." I spoke with Sol briefly before the first set, indicating I had written the review for Homegrown. He immediately beamed at me, and was gracious in conversation, thanking me for my excellent review of "Freedom." Sol strikes me as incredibly humble, appreciative and down-to-earth. We have a mutually appreciative conversation before he heads off to the business of playing blues.
Sol played three spirited sets that night, splashing old blues standards with scorching guitar and soulful vocals. He would change directions and play one of his songs, and the audience would respond even more warmly. He played awesome versions of "Freedom," "Girl," "Let's Get Down," and others, but I was particularly enchanted with his version of "Rough Catfish." Sol sounds like some demonic wailing blues man on this song. Screeching guitar adds to the equation, creating one of my favorite blues songs of the decade. Throughout the evening, Sol would chat amiably with the audience, showcasing his approachable demeanor. He encouraged the occasional throng of dancers, who would trot feverishly across the floor for a song or two before seeking refuge in their beers and gin and tonics.
I would have to encourage anyone who loves blues guitar to check out Sol, either by watching his performance, or by purchasing his album. Sol has a decidedly fresh take on the blues, which is hungry and sexy, polished yet rough edged. He combines blues, rock, reggae and roots music in an incredibly intelligent, stylish package. I heartily recommend a Sol show to anyone, and hope to see him in North Carolina again soon.
- J Evan Wade