Once again your crusty chronicler felt the need to resurrect his old “Listen Again” series. For those of you just joining us, the “Listen Again” series is a series in which we revisit albums that for one reason or another perhaps did not receive the attention/acclaim they deserved when they were originally released. Whether it was the recording was ahead of its time, broke away from the artist’s usual style, was poorly publicized or initially misunderstood, the “Listen Again” series urges music fans to listen again. This time we revisit Solace and Fury’s Winter.
For those not up on indie artists, Solace and Fury is an original indie act. The project is the brainchild of L.A.-based lead singer-songwriter/producer/arranger Amber Tisue, who has been writing songs since she was 13. Winter is her 2010 11-track release.
Tisue takes the lead with her guitars and vocals. As per usual, she is backed by a bevy of additional artists including: Christopher Hawley (acoustic and slide guitar), Brian Boland and Al Wolovich (bass), Andretta Tuten (violin) and Lukas Nelson and Greg Herzenach (electric guitar). The album opens on “Time”.
Not to be confused with the Pink Floyd classic from the 1973 Dark Side of the Moon album or the 1980 Alan Parsons Project tune, this “Time” is a true Tisue tune. Here she becomes a multi-instrumentalist adding the djembe and percussion to her repertoire in a unique failed proposal piece. The second selection is “Answer”, a fan favorite on which Tisue also takes up the mandolin, Rhodes piano and drums.
Not to be confused with the 1969 Beatles’ tune or the 1967 Doors’ track, “The End” is an original composition. Why it appears next on the playlist isn’t clear. Any track with this title would initially seem to fit better at . . . well . . . the end. Nevertheless, Tisue makes it work right where she put it.
Tisue adds her piano and synths to “Far Away” on an album overflowing with sorrow, regret, heartbreak and pain. “Within”, the next number, features Joel Jaffe on the ebow and leads into “Come Back To Me” which is comparatively upbeat and includes Tisue working playing everything including the bass. It includes some noteworthy, honest lyrics in which she proclaims “I’m a fool and you’re an asshole” but still seems to be focused on the relationship with him.
“Save Yourself” returns to a more dark and downbeat approach. Here she sings about unsuccessfully attempting to save both herself and someone else. Tisue accents this track with her synth. It is followed by “Still”.
“Still” is a lyrical lament about a former love and an observation on inner-strength and even self-delusion. This is a fan favorite on which Tisue once more does “The Little Red Hen” doing everything unassisted. “Letting Go”, which includes Tisue on electric guitar, is perhaps slightly overshadowed by the next cut “The Vampire”.
“The Vampire” takes “Critic’s Choice”. This is a tuneful tale about someone who was played by a playah and squeezed like an orange. Tom Scott guests on piano putting out some pseudo-ragtime rhythms while Tisue takes up the harpsichord on this offbeat hit waiting to happen.
The end cut is “Reprieve”. This piano piece is a pure instrumental that brings the disc to an almost too quiet uneventful close. Then again, the season itself actually transitions rather quietly once the last storm has hit so perhaps this is somehow fitting if not as memorable as the majority of the tracks here.
Tisue’s work, always marked by her wistful, mournful vocals, and oft’times inspired by the likes of Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell and Sarah Mclachlan, has an especially personal albeit painful point of view here. Anyone can put out poppy, upbeat dance ditties, but on Winter Tisue seems to bare her soul. The CD seems to be aptly titled in that Tisue sings of what could have been the worst heartbreak of her life.
The songs seem to roller-coaster from anger to desperation about lost love and a somehow still present hope that maybe someday she will love again. The cathartic cuts are surely sincere. Winter is a tuneful turmoil of mournful music storming to a quiet conclusion that is surely worthy of additional attention. If you’ve never listened to Solace and Fury’s Winter, listen to it. If you’ve already listened to it . . . listen again.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.