Solana – Camino
Self Released – 2017
One album that I really took a shine to recenetly is Camino by Bristol-based band Solana. As the name may suggest, there is a fusion of flavours at work under the surface which the colourful album design also hints at.
Although now based in Bristol they were founded in Valencia in 2012 as an itinerant acoustic folk trio. Their bio suggests that in those intervening years, they’ve not only grown in number (now eight players), but their music has also developed almost beyond recognition. Without having an earlier album to compare it to I couldn’t possibly comment but there is no denying the mass of influences at play throughout the album from folk and celtic influences to Latin, African and Klezmer. They make my spice shelf look boring in comparison. From the opening track once they demonstrate an almost telepathic sense of rythmn and timing as Alex Dickinson’s guitar and Rowen Elliot’s violin prepare the canvas. You’ll keep asking “What’s going to happen next?” – therein lies some of the kick this band provide and they do it with great style.
Jazz and Afro-funk bubble to the surface on a personal favourite – xiki xiki, a tune driven along by Tamsin Elliott’s accordion over a gorgeous rhythm section. While Gnomad finds Tamsin’s flute weaving in a swirling acoustic spin with Rowen’s violin in a Klezmer dance-off with a head-bobbing dub undecurrent.
Many of the tunes on the album are around 5 or 6 minutes long, enough time to allow each tune to tell its tale. A fine example being the latin-sounding Get Out of my way (it apparently began life as the musical accompaniment to a cross-dressed Alex prancing through a lakeside party – maybe at a previous Secret Garden Party where they perform on July 21st?). Leaving nothing to the imagination it literally struts along before taking up a driving dance rythmn. This transitions into a beautiful short flamenco moment on Alex’s guitar before Lucas Arouz de Marcos takes to song with a Cuban flavoured finale with help from Tamsin on backing vocals.
One instrumental which has a more of a Celtic flavour is Camino del agua (the way of the water), the tune builds to a beautiful frenzy that would be impossible to resist at any festival violin and flute reunite.
All of the players on this harmonically rich album shine brightly, but what sets them apart from others that blend such a colourful fusion is the range and scope of each tune. You never quite know where they’re going to take it to. The pace certainly lends itself to dance, making them an ideal festival band but as an album, this stands up on its own. It’s an engaging listen and I found myself happily going back for repeated plays.
They also seem to have a nice ethos to making their music as hinted at on the finale Diving which ends on a reggae-driven tune. The liner notes for the tune reads: ‘When you think you have nothing left to lean on, open your eyes and see you have everything you need to keep going’. Something their own music seems to live by…as if to prove the point, they inform us that when not playing music, the members of Solana can be found “making chutney, cycling long distances, and correcting people who mispronounce ‘paella’.”
I think I just found my new festival band fix!
Order Camino via Bandcamp here https://solana.bandcamp.com/
Jul 21 – Secret Garden Party, Cambridge
Jul 28 – The Old Firehouse, Exeter
Aug 18 – Glemham Hall, Suffolk
Sep 02 – The Gladstone, Brighton
More here: https://www.facebook.com/solanamusica/