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Albums | Vera Sola - Peacemaker

Een sterke en herkenbare stem gekoppeld aan bakken sfeer, dat is hoe Vera Sola - het alter ego van Danielle Aykroyd - mij met haar tweede full album raakt.

Die stem is tijdloos en kan je gerust in een categorie met Nancy Sinatra plaatsen. Het is zo één van die stemmen die blijft boeien, een stem die nummers draagt, waar je aan gekluisterd blijft. Sola vertelt ook verhalen méér dan dat ze gewoon liedjes zingt.

Wat die sfeer betreft, dat is een pak moeilijker te omschrijven. Lynchiaans zouden psuedo-intellectuelen orakelen. Peacemaker heeft songs die wat mij betreft perfect als soundtrack voor de serie Westworld zouden kunnen dienen. Er zit iets 'country' in, maar evengoed folk en pop. Het geheel is echter steeds donker gekruid, bij momenten wat spookachtig. Toen ik het nummer Desire Path publiceerde, gaf ik de muziek de naam 'orkestrale ghost folk in een 60's pop jasje'. Samen met Bad Idea en The Line contrasteren deze songs met andere zoals het mysterieuze, prikkelende I'm Lying, Bird House of Waiting. Regelrecht uit een juke joint zou Hands kunnen komen en Tom Waits is hier nooit veraf. Blood Bond is het meest stevige nummer en straalt kracht en intensiteit uit, best hevig naar het slot toe. Helemaal dark/haunted country wordt het tijdens afsluiter Instrument of War, waarmee het album op een high afsluit.

Peacemaker van Vera Sola is zo'n album dat je misschien niet meteen raakt, laat het echter even groeien en het pakt je bij je nekvel.

Releasedatum: 2 februari 2024



Peacemaker follows Vera Sola's critically acclaimed 2018 debut Shades. Created in near-total isolation, when she finally decided to release it, it was the first time Vera Sola had ever let anyone hear her sing. It’s memorable artwork found her crouched in the corner of a derelict building and like the photograph on its cover, the recording found her voice layered, shrouded in shadow. Peacemaker blows out the walls of that room and surges across the grand American landscape it inhabits. Recorded predominantly in Nashville over the fall of 2019, Vera Sola, ever the orchestrator, nonetheless opened herself up to the magic of collaboration, working alongside co-producer Kenneth Pattengale, to bring in dozens of musicians to embellish the sound. It marks a dramatic shift from the shadowy, enclosed nature of her first recordings, to a sweeping new sonic landscape and renewed focus on her remarkable voice.

"I see this record as a sort of topography of memory", she explains, "if one were to unroll the mind, and watch as the moments that coalesce into memories rise from the map into relief. It’s a collection of stories stitched together with that particular dreamlike quality which allows for disparate spaces to converge into a single scarcely knowable vastness".

The record is at times bold and orchestral while retaining some of the dirt and grit that was present under the fingernails of Shades, realising a whole world while managing to also find remarkable detail in snapshot vignettes. Influences range from New World Symphony - Antonín Dvořák’s exploration of American history and landscapes - to the rattling percussion and distorted guitar of 80s era Tom Waits. The lyrics are at times surreal, at others tender, unflinchingly bold and revealing or touching with jolts of everyday mundanity.

Despite the ambition of the project, Peacemaker wasn’t intended to be years in the making but so it was. Loss, righteous anger, climate despair, illness and eventually radical acceptance seemed to domino over the years of creation.

"I’ve since moved through the heart of the rage" she explains "and initially when considering the release of this record so long after its recording I wondered whether it was wise to open that door again. But I’ve come to learn that there is a lot of love in anger". Continuing, "I heard it said recently that anger is the deepest form of care. It’s important to feel and express and allow for that kind of care. We can’t move beyond anger without expressing it. The only way out is through".

In the most literal reading of the album’s title, here Vera Sola is the peacemaker, taking all that darkness - both personal and collective—and transmuting it through sound. But there are deeper, more complex meanings too. After years of work, the album still didn’t have a title, until the word Peacemaker landed in meditation. "The Colt Single Action Army…the Peace-maker…is the gun that quote-unquote tamed the American West", Vera Sola says. "So it has this thematic resonance with the thrust of the record, as well as a personal significance to my family lineage of old west gun slingers. It’s the ultimate irony—not only in the sense of peace made violently, but also in that it’s this beautiful word that wraps around something horrible. It really gets to the complexity of the music. That complexity is important to me, that staring down and reintegrating of the shadow is important to me.

Vera Sola - Peacemaker

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