Review: Solvents – Ghetto Moon (2013)

“Are You Gonna Wait For Love To Leave?” is the second track on Solvents’ latest album, Ghetto Moon, and it’s by no means a song you come across every day. In fact, if you did hear it today or tomorrow or next week, it may very well stop you in your place for a minute or two, maybe all four and a half. There is something undeniably piercing about it; the song is stirring, raw, vibrant and completely stripped down. Fundamentally, it’s just a man and woman, an acoustic guitar, words and a melody. Yet Solvents transcend “Are You Gonna Wait For Love To Leave?” to a different level; the song beautifully captures earnest and honest human emotion, and that’s one of the most difficult parts of creating any song, story, movie or art.

Solvents consist of singer-songwriter/ guitarist Jarrod Bramson and his wife, violinist Emily Madden. The couple is based out of Port Townsend, Washington, where they currently reside, raise their daughters and make music. Solvent’s previous release, forgive yr. blood, found the duo incorporating a fuller band and creating and a louder, edgier sound. However with Ghetto Moon, the couple wanted to return the focus to the strengths of their lyrics and Madden’s violin melodies. It’s sort of an atypical music situation out there in Port Townsend, but when listening to Ghetto Moon, it’s evident something is definitely working.

Many of the album’s songs do showcase Madden’s delicate, yet powerful violin work. “Angels of Agriculture” and “Careless Step” are Ghetto Moon highlights that build off of mighty string arrangements. Bramson often incorporates sparse guitar parts into the songs and it pairs beautifully with Madden’s violin. On “Great and Godless Zoo” the guitar strumming sounds so simple, yet its thumping pluck is surprisingly catching. It almost doubles as a bass or mellow drum part, it keeps the beat going as Bramson yearns, “I want to run, I want to whisk you away through this weary glass.”

“Don’t Expect To Find Love (with no compromise)” incorporates an accelerated stride and even mirrors aspects of a rock anthem. Lyrically it’s a bit edgier, even a tad punk rock, but it creates a nice change of pace on the album. Overall, I feel Solvents are lyrically at their best when composing their swooning, heartfelt verses and choruses. “Are You Gonna Wait For Love To Leave?” highlights those talents and it helps make the song undeniably catchy. It’s no secret, people enjoy singing along to songs with lyrics they can relate to. It’s a major pop music mentality, but it’s also one of the highest forms of musical admiration, no matter what genre.

With all the craftsmanship incorporated into Ghetto Moon, it may be surprising to hear the album was almost entirely recorded in one day, with most songs recorded live on the first take. Solvents are very much taking the road less traveled in today’s music. It’s keeping their sound fresh, unique and more than worthy of a minute to stop and listen.

Rating: 7.4/10

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