There’s a nostalgia virus running rampant throughout indie music these days. From the bands of the Jack-White-iverse trying to resurrect ’70s rock and groups like Surfer Blood working to mutate ’50s surf rock, acts across the spectrum are looking back for inspiration and to find their voice in a sea of sounds. For cellist/vocalist Ben Sollee, though, he didn’t have very far to reach back in order to make his freak-folk inspired album, Inclusions.
Much in the vein of the Joanna Newsom’s and Sufjan Steven’s of the world, Sollee is a classical musician first and foremost. What he’s done with the new record is taken his skill-set and the same bizarre style of adaptation his earlier musical brethren applied to baroque and utilized it on more rural sounds like bluegrass and folk, along with elements of jazz and R&B. The result is tracks like “Bible Belt”, which is a decidedly somber, almost eerie jazz cut with the instrumentation sounding as much like bird calls as it does horns, making the funk-ified sexual energy all that more confusing and alluring. “Close To You”, another offering, is a bluegrass-pop hybrid, jangly and rustic in nature, with huge chunks of psychedelia mixed in thanks to more unique horn arrangements that continue the song’s blissful energy and prevent it from delving into the land of noise.
Through these tracks and beyond, Sollee keeps things interesting with his sonic creations. He ends, however, on a gloriously romantic and breath-stealing moment of ambient simplicity with “I Need”, showing, in the end, and for all his creative prowess, Sollee just wants to make us all feel the power of a great song. And that, by the way, is a completely timeless concept.