Album Review: Ben Sollee – Half Made Man




    The producer on Ben Sollee’s sophomore album, a collaboration with Daniel Martin Moore titled Dear Companion, was the king of My Morning Jacket, Jim James. The producer on Ben Sollee’s most recent effort, Half Made Man, was Ben Sollee. “If you want something bad enough, you gotta do it yourself,” he sings on “DIY”, an energetic alt-country track that embodies the idea behind this PledgeMusic-campaign-funded, self-produced album, of which he says, “each song is its own portrait of a piece or a part of me.”

    The subject matter populating Sollee’s folky, autobiographical canvas include his desire to fix things on “The Healer”, the side of him that “wants to just like, bust through the walls and be the rebel” on “Get Off Your Knees”, and the “more moderated side that wants to dedicate his life to a simpler art form” on “the Maestro”. What could be the title track,  “Unfinished” finds Sollee earnestly howling, “Don’t you know that I am not finished/ Yes, I am a half-made man/ And I need your forgiveness to feel whole again.”

    A dream team of collaborators round out this self-reflecting, ten-song collection, including former STS9 bassist Alana Rocklin and My Morning Jacket’s Carl Broemel, whose riffs wail on “Pursuit of Happiness”’s soulful, Southern rock (Sollee played cello on Circuital and has toured with James). Sollee provides the sounds of the octave mandolin, guitar, and his signature cello, which weaves around just about everything, even illiciting feel-good foot-tapping on album opener “Whole Lot To Give”.

    “I didn’t go with a record label or anything like that because all it takes these days is a direct relationship with your audience, and that’s what it’s all about,” Sollee said in an interview. Half Made Man refreshingly proves that connecting with your audience and collaborating with talented friends can make for a good blueprint.

    Essential Tracks: “Whole Lot To Give”, “Pursuit of Happiness”