Ben Sollee

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Inclusions Review

by William Ruhlmann

While singer/songwriter/cellist Ben Sollee's second solo album, Inclusions, can't exactly be called "classical crossover," it does occupy a musical space in between classical and pop music in the sense that the classically trained Sollee retains an arty sensibility that he brings to the folk/country sound he adopts. Or maybe it's just that building pop arrangements off a cello necessarily leads to somewhat classical effects. Sollee sings impressionistic lyrics in a somewhat disembodied tenor, and when that singing is supported by arrangements featuring, for instance, a deliberately atonal horn chart ("Bible Belt"), the result is art song, if not the sort of music likely to turn up in a recital hall. The leader also contributes autoharp, bass, guitar, mandolin, piano, synthesizer, and, on "Cluttered Mind," among others, tenor banjo. Inclusions is not an album for any typical audience, though those with more esoteric and adventurous tastes may embrace it.

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