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Ben Sollee
Learning To Bend
SonaBLAST! Records
www.bensollee.com


Ben Sollee
Rhymes with
Amos Lee.

It's simple really. You like Amos Lee? You'll Like Ben Sollee. I first heard Ben play cello when he was backing Denver bluesman Otis Taylor, adding a depth and sincerity to Taylor's live show that was hard to miss. But on his first solo outing, Ben plays heavyweight as he pens songs about the current political climate as well as delving into more personal stories along the way. Learning To Bend is filled with songs weighed down with one overwhelming theme… that bending under the heavy weight of something is harder to do at first, but it is the only way to survive. If something is too strong to bend, it becomes brittle when tested and snaps. Physics, people. Learning To Bend is filled with easy-going, sparse tracks that highlight Sollee's voice, which has grown quite rich in its timbre, and owes a debt to the aforementioned Amos Lee. "A Few Honest Words" is sparse protest music at its finest, with light strings plucking behind Sollee's plea, "Just a few honest words is all I need/We don't choose our leaders/They choose themselves/tell me again about democracy." The album delves into a bit jazzier territory on songs like "How To See The Sun Rise" but always maintains a strong musical integrity, which I'm sure springs from Sollee's classical background. As a cellist he has been featured in some great bands, but really shines on his own songs and brings an almost G. Love flair for groove to his own songs. Sollee is a musical chameleon, flitting from style to style effortlessly… the absurdist hootenanny 'grass lyric and feel of "Bury Me With My Car" and the roving "It's Not Impossible" nicely offset the loosely stoic classicalism of "I Can't." The songs on Learning To Bend are beautiful, personal, and friendly… even when Sollee bends your ear to his political ranting it is always in a friendly manner, meant to influence, not pressure. For anyone looking for a nice summer record filled with groovy rhythms, brilliant musicianship, and enchanting lyricism, Learning To Bend is a sure fire winner.

-L. Keane

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