Well, not brand new. Solin recorded Energy Fair in late 2007, some copies were out in 2008, but the album release party was only a couple of months ago. Semantics – good music is good music, and Energy Fair is loaded with it. The album cover doesn’t suggest a skiller pop craftsman, nor does the daunting title of the opening track “Which Way To Sanity”. But by track two, the jangly “Take it From The Top”, you’re ready to go the distance. And at nineteen tracks, you have miles to go!
Solin has a solid, appealing voice and doesn’t really sound like John Lennon incarnate, although that might be the most frequent namedrop I’ve heard, probably because he portrayed Lennon in an Off-Broadway Beatlemania show. (I’ve heard others suggest Parthenon Huxley and even a more centered David Bowie, and I can’t against argue either.) If anything, the album is more often channeling George Martin-isms, although you’d expect that kind of nick from someone who is a producer himself.
“Strawberry Wine” really bleeds the influences, featuring “Penny Lane” trumpet, Ringo drum fills and the slow march of voice over piano that Lennon would use on his more pensive numbers. However, the result is anything but a Beatles cop; in fact it is more closely comparable to the midtempo Memphis pop of Van Duren (even more eeriely reminiscent on the gorgeous “Diamond Gold” and “Doesn’t Have To Be With You”). That’s a big compliment.
What I found remarkable about Energy Fair was the ability to keep up the pace for nineteen songs without flagging, especially considering that the bulk of the tunes exceed the four minute mark. While the slower tempo songs allow you to appreciate his lyrics and phrasing, the jaunty tracks like “No Connection” (a favorite), “Adrienne” and “Robin” are just as appealing. Songs are catchy, but not dumb-riff simple; there’s a lot of meat on these bones.
Nothing really rocks on this album with the exception of the 60s psych “Cuz I’m Yours” and “Streets of Westville”, the latter a dark, brooding hybrid of Jim Morrison and Neil Young’s Crazy Horse. Still, while it might sound fine blasting out your car window you’re not going to get anyone dancing or flashing you the rock horns. But neither is it an album that demands quiet introspection, as if the fragilty of the experience would be violated by sharing it outside your personal space. Energy Fair is diverse and vibrant enough to be appealing under any circumstance. If I heard this wafting across the fence I’d be more inclined to hop across and meet that new neighbor.
Solin on MySpace.
Solin website with links to purchase from Not Lame and Kool Kat.
Listen to clips at CDBaby.