From London to Ontario, and finally Vancouver, singer-songwriter and recording artist Alison Solo releases her highly anticipated sophomore album entitled 'Plutonian.'
After the release of her debut album 'Sakaita,' Alison Solo returned to England to write and create her sophomore record, 'Plutonian.' The project is said to be a unique hybrid of blues and classic rock with elements of psychedelia and grunge. In terms of its concept and theme, Solo mentioned that she hopes to keep the art of storytelling alive in songwriting as she communicates her life experiences through personification and fictional tales.
Diving into the album, we're met with the introductory track, "American Dream," which opens the project on a sweet note with a warm acoustic guitar and Alison Solo's rich and raw vocals. Solo later tells a tale of a family who doesn't seem to be finally stable while chasing the classic American dream. As the instrumentals begin to broaden around the song's halfway point, Alison Solo and her energetic performance blast through our speakers while leaving us with a soulful and hearty southern twang to tap our feet to.
Blasting into track number two with "Chiron," the wounded healer in astrology, the track opens with a bright and bold instrumental that sets the song's energetic and punchy tone. As Alison Solo goes into detail surrounding why she can't love someone while living inside her mind, the song begins to pick up in energy and might with an overall irresistible blues approach that leaves us banging our heads to each beat. Not to mention the intoxicating powerhouse vocals that Solo has to offer, she truly leaves us shaking in our boots with each powerful belt.
Moving onto track number three, "Glass Window," this song opens on a more haunting and grungy note with a saddened acoustic guitar melody and Alison Solo's mysterious vocal portrayal. As she begins elaborating on what her lover would do if she was made of stone, the instrumentals start to expand with this powerhouse grunge feel that takes us back to the early 90s. We love the ominous and eerie feel of this heavy track, as it plays a perfect role within the entire conceptual album. As Alison Solo makes her way to the song's end, she leaves us with an inner sense of secrecy and obscurity.
Reaching the fourth track, "Beautiful and Old," we're met with a psychedelic keyboard melody that opens the song with a bright and cheerful tone. As Alison Solo makes her way in, her raw and passionate vocals begin to elaborate on how humans manage to get so beautiful and old at the same time. We can feel a sense of nostalgia strike our ears with Solo's lyricism while sinking us into a deep state of reflection. We love the song's mid-tempo and supportive instrumentals, as they perfectly back up Alison Solo's soulful performance.
Landing on the album's halfway point with "Interlude: What You Hide Can Hurt You," this song offers an upbeat and blazing interlude similar to Rush's "YYZ," yet with a more southern twang and an undeniable bluesy feel. We love the impeccable transitions within the blazing instrumentals alongside Alison Solo's haunting background vocals, as it makes for a perfect halfway experience to keep us locked in and engaged.
Upping the soul with the sixth track, "Sister Rosetta Tharpe," the track kicks off with Alison Solo's soulful and gritty vocal stylings that bring us deep into the song's heavy and punchy atmosphere. As she continues her powerful performance, the instrumentals perfectly back her up with their intricate drum breaks and a chilling organ to break the ground beneath our feet. We adore the haunting feel of this track, as it leaves us swaying to Alison Solo's ghostly vocals while fueling our spirits with energy through each in-depth transition.
Onto track number seven, "Vanishing Twin Syndrome," the song takes off with Alison Solo's chilling vocal stylings that sing of the fires that burn the earth and how every man is for himself during these primitive times. As the psychedelic electric guitar begins pouring through our speakers with incredible emotion and heart, Alison Solo continues her alluring performance while serenading us with incredible soul and power. Although this track is just over a minute in length, it truly takes a toll on us with each conceptual lyric and haunting melody.
Plowing our speakers with the next track, "Last One Standing," this song takes us through an exhilarating and feel-good instrumental atmosphere right off the bat. As soon as Alison Solo makes her way in, she begins to enlighten us on how she needs a higher vibration to live her life the way she attends. As she moves us into the hook, the instrumentals explode with nothing but energy and might while Alison Solo maintains her charismatic and passionate performance. As the track comes to an end, Alison Solo leaves us feeling refreshed and ready to reach the stars.
Ending the album's listening experience with the final and outro track, "Old English," this song opens on more of a downtempo and bluesy note with a sole acoustic guitar and Alison Solo's haunting vocal portrayal. As she begins to dive into the song's lyrical theme, she elaborates on turning to God in silence and turning to drugs out loud. We love the introspection that Alison Solo sings with, not only throughout this piece but the entire album. As Alison Solo's warm and beaming harmonies take us to the song's outro, we're left parting ways with an album that truly took its toll on us.
Don't miss out on the dynamic listening experience of Alison Solo's sophomore album, 'Plutonian,' now available on vinyl and Bandcamp.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Alison Solo, and congratulations on releasing your anticipated sophomore album, 'Plutonian.' When did you begin writing lyrics and executing ideas for this project? How long was the album in the making?
Thank you! The lyrics are typically the final pieces to the puzzle. I don't generally write them until the instrumentation, and the vocal melodies are complete. Upon completion, I plug them in. Because there was such a long gap - an entire decade - between the release of Plutonian and my debut album "Sakata," I sort of had ideas sprinkled all over the place throughout the years. I didn't know that these ideas were leading up to this record until I returned to live in England for a year and finally decided to record a new record. For instance, my song "Glass Window" was written a year or two after I released 'Sakaita.' The music for Vanishing Twin Syndrome was also written around that time. I didn't write the vocal melodies or lyrics for that song until years later, though, when I was living in England and in the process of recording it. Sister Rosetta Tharpe was initially called "Back-Up" Girl, and I wrote the verses and the chorus about several years ago, with makeshift lyrics, although most of what I had written stayed. It wasn't until I was in England that I finished writing it. Chiron was written right before I left Toronto to move to England, and Beautiful And Old were written a year before. I referenced a lot of ideas that I already had recorded on my eight-track. So in a way, you could say that the album has been in the making for a decade, unwittingly, though. I have a barrel of songs that didn't cut this album, so perhaps you'll hear them on my next release, which I anticipate soon.
What inspired you to write about the many topics and themes within the album 'Plutonian?'
My life and my experiences are always the primary motivation behind all of my songs. I've had a pretty exciting life, and so it has lent itself to my songwriting. The themes and the topics woven within the tapestry of Plutonian are a part of my life. I have been interested in Astrology for quite some time, and that interest only deepened when I returned to England. I learned quite a lot about it, and whether I take it to heart or not, I find it interesting nonetheless. The theme of transformation is inextricably linked to the astrological proponent, and within that, my shifts and patterns of symbolic deaths and rebirths. It's like I'm constantly reborn. The constant in my life is change.
Additionally, I like to talk about the pink elephants in the room or delve into the aspects of life that can quickly get repressed and covered up with all the glitter and gold. There is a passionate punk rock/activist person that lives inside me. Part of that sometimes requires bringing some ugly truths to the surface. I won't go into too much detail because I like to let people think for themselves instead of giving too much away, but some of the topics are pretty palpable. For example, I wrote the song American Dream as a hyperbolic story. It's dark, but it's a truth that needs to be addressed, so I communicated it through fiction. A vast majority of people live in poverty, and poverty activates the fight or flight mode within us, making us act differently than, say, if we are living comfortably and having all of our needs met. I've always had a roof over my head, thankfully, but I have experienced what it's like to be short for rent or to have enough money for food barely. I know what it's like to feel like the system has failed you. And I consider myself lucky. This stuff needs to be talked about. I read Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" when I did a lot of the lyric writing for this album. It planted some thoughts into my head that manifested into some of the songs. Particularly "Last One Standing."
Which track off 'Plutonian' is your personal favorite? Could you elaborate on why this track stands out to you?
My favorite track on the album is Sister Rosetta Tharpe. For me, it's the show stopper. It stands out to me for a barrage of reasons. When I hear it, I envision the entire live production. I love the gospel undertone it has; it's intense, emotional, and uplifting all at the same time. I feel proud of it, from the instrumentation/musicianship to the songwriting, the sound, the production, and the depth of the subject matter. It was constructed painstakingly, although it wrote itself in the sense that it came naturally. Everyone involved did such a phenomenal job interpreting it. I hold it close to my heart because it has a special meaning to me. A part of it was written to bring attention to the true pioneer of rock 'n roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and it is a great travesty that, for the most part, she has remained unheralded for her profound influence in the world of rock. The other part of it was written through my lens, and what it's like to feel like you've lost your voice and seem to fade into the background and never get the recognition or acknowledgment that you want or that you think you deserve. This song is really about allowing yourself to be heard and never dim your light to make others comfortable.
What did you want your listeners to feel and take away after listening to 'Plutonian?'
I just wanted my listeners to feel like they had traveled in a time capsule into when music sounded less manufactured. I wanted to create an entire album, odyssey, and for the listeners to sit back and enjoy the experience. But I didn't want it to be taken in in one shot. It's an intense album. I wanted to create something new, fresh, and timeless, whereby it can't be pinned down to a specific genre or period and can be listened to repeatedly, with something new to be discovered each time. I experienced profound healing while making this album, and I want the audience to feel the same on some level. To summarize, I wanted the listeners to feel like the music was tugging away at something beneath the surface and reignite something that has been lost to them and music. I want them to experience joy.
How does this album contrast your debut record 'Sakaita?' What differences do you deliver this time around with 'Plutonian?'
'Sakaita' was inspired by a much darker period of my life. I often refer to 'Sakaita' as the "shadow" of Plutonian. The album was very well produced and clean. I wrote all the songs on that album. However, I didn't make it. Plutonian was the first album I have ever produced, so I felt an extra level of gratification upon the release of the record. Not only did I play all the guitars this time around, but I played the bass on it as well (though I didn't write all the bass lines). I got to have full agency over everything. This album is really as raw as it gets. Not just sonically, but on a level of vulnerability. It's honest. It isn't "perfect," but it's a true expression of me. I think the maturity shines on Plutonian, whereas 'Sakaita' was more infantile. 'Sakaita' was darker and sounded like a relic of the 90s. I still love that era; most of my favorite bands are from that era. It's still rooted in blues, though, just darker blues. Plutonian is more of a blues-rock album in the traditional sense. It taps into different blues expressions, with hints of classic rock, British rock, psychedelia, grunge, and even a bit of country. My singing has evolved over the years, and you can hear a notable difference in my tones and range. I had vocal nodes a few years after the release of 'Sakaita.' It took me years to re-learn how to sing again without being self-conscious about it because I knew that the sound of my voice had changed. Plutonian is symbolic of my growth as a singer, the pain of unbecoming things that no longer serve you, and the integration of my shadow ('Sakaita'). On a more surface level, Plutonian is quite an apt reflection of the current times. I'm proud of both albums.