Acclaimed cellist, composer, songwriter and activist Ben Sollee presents Ben Sollee And Kentucky Native (the name describing both the ensemble and the album). Tracing the origins of a traditional American genre back to early immigrants, Sollee takes a nontraditional approach, blending the influences of early Irish and Scottish musicians with the rhythms of Mexico, Africa and India. This album is Sollee's most personally revealing work and a reflection of his native Kentucky, a place like many others, that's still helping refine the ever-changing Bluegrass genre.
Inspired by the interactions and collaborations of string musicians from all walks of life, Sollee and his bandmates recorded 12 songs in a cabin at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont, KY. Each song was captured live as an ensemble with a mobile, analog studio and with just a few overdubs. Together, they thoughtfully re-imagined a revered style with world music characteristics. The moving arrangement of "Carrie Bell" features syncopated African-influenced rhythms, which contrast Sollee's melodic cello. Drawing inspiration from this side of the globe, "Mechanical Advantage" is built from the foundations of the Huapango musical-dance genre in Mexico. Sollee's vision, influenced by the people, culture and environment around him, is elevated by lyrics reflecting life and human nature.
"Pieces Of You" is a compelling and idealistic composition inspired by Sollee's friendship with conceptual artist Louis Zoellar Bickett II and his art exhibit ‘The Archive.' In "Presence" which is perhaps the most, poetic and personal, he shares a personal affinity for lying on his back in the deep end of a pool finding solace in the peacefulness of the water, before the need to come back to the surface. Just like that, he is thrown back into the frenetic pace of the real world and existence.
Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native was produced by Alex Krispin. Musicians on the album include Jordon Ellis (percussion), Bennett Sullivan (banjo), Julian Pinelli (fiddle), Jonathan Estes (bass), Josh Hari (bass) and Jonah Smith (background vocals). Sollee wrote all but two songs on the album ("Emily's Song" and "Carrie Bell").