Soledad, A Solo Project – Catharsis
France seems to be the origin of many miracles out of nowhere (or rather out of the Haken Haven/Cockroachposting community) lately so it seems. After the incredible albums from Keor and Delsey Hill shook up my end of the year lists when I discovered them in december last year, there is another album that has been dominating my playlist for a good part of this year I have to say. While “Velveteen” (Delsey Hill) and “Petrichor” (Keor) were already very divergent in style and sound, “Catharsis” is a whole different beast altogether. Entirely conceived by guitarist and singer Lola Damblant-Soler (with the help of some friends) and self-released under the moniker of Soledad – A Solo Project, “Catharsis” keeps the promise of its title, as it is a cathartic emotional roller coaster ride of epic proportions.
Without going into too much details, “Catharsis” is probably the epitome of an autobiographically inspired body of work. After the instrumental ‘Ouverture’ and the major chord dominated ‘White Knight’ have lulled us into a false sense of security, things get twisted with ‘Dogma’ and come crashing down spectacularly with the crushing ‘Routine’. The ordeal becomes palpable in ‘Rotting’, ‘Parasite’ and ‘Sun of June’. ‘Renaissance’ literally brings a re-birth out of all the turmoil. And the final epic ‘Indigo’ looks back again on all the things that happened, both musically and thematically before emerging triumphant from all the pain and suffering.
Soledad – White Knight (feat. Soumi Ghechami) (click here if the video above does not play)
Cramming the style of Soledad into one simple sub-genre is not easy, just as it would be a huge disservice to the feat that it incorporates a lot of different musical styles while still staying true to its own voice throughout the whole seventy minutes. The guitar sound is definitely modern, Lola’s voice is clearly classically trained, while the structure of the compositions evidently draw a lot of influences from prog rock concept albums with the recurring themes and all that. ‘Routine’ even features some fierce growls from Lola herself in the verses that work perfectly, it is still the weakest track in my opinion, as the chorus just falls a bit flat and is not able to uphold the stellar quality of the rest of “Catharsis”. Lola’s voice especially shines in the stunning rendition of baroque composer Henry Purcell‘s Dido’s Lament (‘Parasite’), one of the very few adaptations of classical pieces that actually manages to enhance it with an engaging guitar riff and doomy groove that kind of juxtapose the arpeggiating violins in the background. To top it all off, the melodic guest solo from Fractal Universe‘s Hugo Florimond is the icing on the cake and guarantees a musical eargasm with every playthrough.
Soledad – Dogma (feat. Liam McLaughlin) (click here if the video above does not play)
The twisted centerpiece ‘Sun of June’, that marks the breakup from the toxic relationship “Catharsis” is dealing with, features both the most delicate and vulnerable, but also the strongest vocal parts on the entire album, emotionally speaking. Both extremes benefit enormously from the direct contrast, making an even bigger impact. While there is no accent to be heard in Lola’s singing (which was quite the relief after hearing her narration in the ‘Ouverture’), the use of her french mothertongue in ‘Renaissance’ and ‘Indigo’ is still a welcome change, especially for someone like me who has a strong affinity to the French language. With its 25 minutes playtime, ‘Indigo’ closes off the album in awe-inspiring fashion, bringing back all the musical themes like the sitar from ‘Rotting’ or the cool 7/8 groove from ‘Dogma’, before it climaxes in one guitar solo to end all guitar solos. Provided by producer Lucas de La Rosa, incorporating all the previous solo styles from guest guitarists Soumia Ghechami (‘White Knight’), Liam McLaughlin (‘Dogma’) and the aforementioned Hugo Florimond (‘Parasite’), it is a stunner both in regards to the almost unbelievable display of skills, technique and speed that might just leave some jaws dropping to the floor, but also the emotional weight and impact that is just spot on, leading towards that triumphant ending theme, full of hope and strength and pride.
Soledad – Sun of June (click here if the video above does not play)
Few elements in “Catharsis” feel a bit out of place, like the piano solo in ‘White Knight’ or the hammond organ solo in ‘Routine’, but that might be on purpose and due to the storytelling. In the end, we are faced with a debut album that is mind-blowing in many ways. Music and concept go hand in hand, even the artwork reflects the cathartic journey the protagonist had to go through. And also the poster that comes instead of the booklet not only features the lyrics, but also the sheet music for the main themes of every song, beautifully designed by Lola herself. The production from Lucas de la Rosa is just as outstanding as the rest, with incredible achievements in programming the lively strings and the drums, that almost reach a perfection only David Maxim Micic has achieved so far in my book. Thinking back to meeting Lola for the first time at the Artmania festival in Romania and her telling me about that project, I never could have imagined how much I would fall in love with “Catharsis” just about half a year later. A stunning work of art, a heavy contender for the album of the year trophy and hopefully a promise of even more amazing things to come.
- White Knight
- Sun of June