20 Dec 2018
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Sola Rosa - EP Review: In Spaces

15 May 2018 // A review by Janise Kumar

The highly-acclaimed, genre-fusing artist Sola Rosa is back with a new EP In Spaces - a stellar addition in the artist’s almost two-decade career. In Spaces explores the soundscapes of funk, soul and RnB, pillared by sturdy grooves and commanding vocal performances from a selection of outstanding feature artists.

The EP breezes in with Leave a Light On - helmed by British singer Kevin Mark Trail (The Streets) and finessed by the lustrous L.A. Mitchell in the chorus. The crisp bass tones are coupled with synthesised accents that ooze across the song. Trail’s billowing vocals rise and swell through the haze of the rhythm.

So Fly picks up the pace in this funky dance number. Trail takes on the role of MC, with clever and snappy rhymes that are rounded out by the sass of the chorus. I was humming along to these first two tracks in my head for days after I first listened to the EP. Andrew Spraggon, the man behind Sola Rosa, demonstrates an innate understanding of what makes a good song - as he has done in the past with hits like Del Ray and Turn Around. It’s the simplicity he imparts in his song writing and production, and the way he coalesces electro-ambience into the sound, which really energises a good Sola Rosa track.

Trail’s third appearance on the EP comes in the form of Truth where he throws in a more roots/reggae zest.

The soulful Back to You features up-and-coming singer Noah Slee – a name to remember as this is a voice you will not forget. This downbeat song is enfolded with Slee’s enthralling falsetto and Spraggon does well to complement these expressive vocals with an undercurrent of rhythm and almost jazzy effects. The EP’s final tracks are two remixes of Back to You. The first from Flytones (producers from Istanbul) is an extraordinary reimagining of the original; taking its soul and infiltrating it with an upbeat and old-school, 80’s funk vibrancy. The Potatohead People remix stays truer to the original but casts down the beat with a heavier strike.

On In Spaces Spraggon keeps his production understated and paves the way for three very strong vocalists to take charge. It’s this kind of musical direction that has made Sola Rosa remain a staple of the industry and completely master the elements of such an array of genres across his career. In Spaces is imbued with an aural glow of delectable soundscapes that elevate melodies to higher ground.


Review written by Janise Kumar

 

About Sola Rosa

Since 1999 Sola Rosa’s Andrew Spraggon has been tantalising listeners with otherworldly aural experiences, honing his craft and taking Sola Rosa from a self-released one man project to fully-fledged live powerhouse along the way. He’s kept good company on the road and in the studio, Sola Rosa counting members of Dimmer, Goldenhorse, Pluto and Sommerset amongst the ranks over the years, not to mention pilfering the best members of Che Fu, King Kapisi and Anika Moa’s bands and tapping the talents of internationally renowned artists like Nathan Haines and Spikey Tee. Add to the mix a succession of highly regarded releases the world over on stunning labels that include household names Ministry of Sound, Guidance, Different Drummer, Stereo Deluxe, and Satellite K, and you’ll see why so many eager ears and heavy-lidded eyes are always fixed to fasten on what Sola Rosa does next.

First coming to local music-lovers’ attention as guitarist and vocalist for angular rock band Cicada in the 90s, over the course of the last 9 years Spraggon has been on the receiving end of a Tui (2001’s 'Solarized'), b-net awards (for 2000’s 'Entrance To Skyway' and 2003’s 'Haunted Out-takes'), and a bevy of other accolades and nominations as Sola Rosa, but there’s little doubt when pressing play on 2009's 'Get It Together' that it is his finest accomplishment to date. Taking in a wide swathe of genres, and walking an ever-erratic line between organic and electronic elements, Sola Rosa’s songs continue to pull off Spraggon’s patented trick of electrifying your ears while ensuring that your feet don’t get confused along the way. Three years in the making, 'Get It Together' is best differentiated from its predecessors by a more beat-driven, direct, dance-demanding sound.

Picking up where the performance-based 'Moves On' album left off in 2005, there’s a sweating, smoking live band at the heart of the new record, made up of long-term members of the Rosa roster - Will Scott (drums), Matt Short (bass), and Ben White (guitar). Spraggon studio sorcery has then come into play, tooling up 'Get It Together' for maximum dancefloor impact, and bolstering the album with a roll-call of vocalists, musicians, and compositional contributors running headlong into Sola Rosa’s sonic stirrings at full force – with vocal cuts from Spikey Tee (best known for his work with Jah Wobble, Bomb The Bass, Mark Rae and on some of Sola Rosa’s finest moments); German globetrotter, poet, and singer Bajka; UK MC Serocee; and emerging Wellingtonian songstress Iva Lamkum. Underpinning these outstanding lyrical performances and further illuminating the album’s instrumentals you’ll find an eclectic batch of collaborators that includes the likes of Victoria Kelly, Julien Dyne, Juse, Scratch 22, Hadyn Godfrey, John Highsted, James Duncan, and Miguel Fuentes (who’s played with Isaac Hayes, George Benson, Grover Washington, Patti La Bell and other luminaries).

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Sola Rosa

Releases

In Spaces
Year: 2018
Type: EP
Magnetics
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Solarized (Refreshed)
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Low And Behold, High And Beyond
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Get It Together - The Remixes
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Get It Together
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Moves On
Year: 2005
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Haunted Out Takes
Year: 2003
Type: Album
The Ready Now EP
Year: 2003
Type: EP
Solarized
Year: 2001
Type: Album
Entrance To Skyway
Year: 2001
Type: EP

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