Sol! - Upfront (2017)

Sol!
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Sol - Upfront

Modifying his name was enough to change. Sol from a known quality to something of an unknown. Sol just dropped Upfront, his first solo project since Song of Solomon, Book 1 in 2005 when he went by Sol Edler. I know of Sol Edler and his work, but ironically I was more familiar with him for his role as one of the stable of vocalists who performed with guiltypleasures on their 2009 album Lovestories.

Sol - Upfront

Modifying his name was enough to change. Sol from a known quality to something of an unknown. Sol just dropped Upfront, his first solo project since Song of Solomon, Book 1 in 2005 when he went by Sol Edler. I know of Sol Edler and his work, but ironically I was more familiar with him for his role as one of the stable of vocalists who performed with guiltypleasures on their 2009 album Lovestories.

Sol Elder gave three inspired performances  on Lovestories’ 10 tracks, but his work with the equally versatile and talented Mycah Chevalier on the simmering ballad “Anticipation” is a standout on a very good album. Sol did not perform on guiltypleasures’ 2015 follow-up Cautionarytales, but he returns with Upfront, a project that finds Sol continuing to do what he does very well - deploy his muscular baritone to songs that explore the many facets of the romantic relationships between men and women.

Seven of the nine tracks on Upfront are originals, and for the covers Sol chose two classics - “Golden Lady” and “Lovely Day,” with the swinging “Golden Lady” being the stronger of the two. Sol gives the track more of an uptempo pacing, with the addition of jazz flourishes and a saxophone solo and rhythm section that is driving and funky yet still manages to swing.

Still, two ballads and a mid-tempo track that allow Sol to explore three different facets of relationships show why Sol has been a go-to vocalist for guiltypleasures and other acts for the better part of a decade. The heavenly “After the Sunrise” has the feel of taking “Anticipation” to the next step of realization. The track drifts on a light as feather arrangement as Sol invites the listener to a  description of the morning after that manages to revelatory without being too revealing.

“Broken Record” is one of the tracks on which Sol proves to be the master of metaphor. This mid-tempo number finds the vocalist using the metaphor of a broken record to explain why he cannot seem to extricate himself from a dysfunctional relationship. The pensive “Invisible” finds Sol lamenting a relationship that has devolved to the point where his lady treats him as if he is not there - a fact that has the singer totally out of sorts. On “Invisible,” Sol sings in a stream of consciousness style where he details how the lady ignores him and emotional toll that it takes on him as her anger figuratively transforms him into an invisible man: “You step on me like stairs/Shut me like a door/Run me like a faucet/Overlook me like the floor/You cover me like bills/ignore me like the phone/Turn me on like a light, and then leave me alone.”

The time that Sol spent with guiltypleasures is not the only instance in which the vocalist collaborated with other artists. While it’s easy to see why other performers would like to collaborate with him, Upfront is confirmation that Sol Edler’s decision to resume his focus on his solo work is the right one. He has created a solid addition to both his discography and to the bumper crop of extremely enjoyable releases of 2017.  Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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