There's something somewhat frightening, yet utterly freeing when leaving the confines of a successful band to venture solo – especially a band whose latest record was called "effortlessly brilliant" by critics. But, such is the case with Erika Wennerstrom who is taking a brief vacation from her Cincinnati-based rock band, Heartless Bastards, to deliver her solo debut Sweet Unknown. But fans of Heartless Bastards need not worry. The band has not broken up.
"We'd been going for so long and everyone in the band was just ready for a little break. But I had songs in me that needed to come out. I didn't think it was fair to push them to keep going and I didn't want to do it without them under the band name," explains Wennerstrom, who enlisted the help of HB's Jesse Ebaugh to play bass on 8 of the 9 tracks on Sweet Unknown. While Wennerstrom has always been honest on all of the Heartless Bastards songs she's written, the Sweet Unknown material is even more personal and reflective, and for her, quite transformative as well.
The album kicks off with the feel-good roadtrip vibes of "Twisted Highway," which Wennerstrom says sums up her musical journey on Sweet Unknown. On the somber psych-rocker "Staring Out the Window," the artist digs even deeper into the inner workings of her mind. The upbeat and optimistic "Letting Go" epitomizes that experience. "Good To Be Alone" is just one sonic outcome of a formative trip to Big Bend taken soon after the band decided to go on hiatus.
With Sweet Unknown, Erika Wennerstrom bravely invites the listener in to experience her trials and tribulations of life amidst a cozy soundscape of deeply emotive vocals and melodies to what is ultimately the soundtrack to her soul.