Essential New Music: Ben Sollee And Kentucky Native’s “Ben Sollee And Kentucky Native”

Cellist, songwriter, activist and proud Kentucky native Ben Sollee has always been a difficult artist to predict. The difference between his R&B-based 2012 album Half Made Man and his far-reaching 2016 LP Infowars was night and day, and that’s not counting the four other EPs and albums he produced in between that many never heard about. So what to expect with his new album under new name Ben Sollee And Kentucky Native? Perhaps a quantum leap beyond his indie cello-folk genre to something entirely new? Instead, he’s moved backward, dipping deep into the loamy roots of bluegrass and Appalachian music. Banjo rings throughout, his cello sounds more like a fiddle than ever, and the melodies hew either Celtic or old-timey. It’s a thoroughly delightful and very listenable album. Though perhaps not as cleverly complex as his previous work, it seems to strike closer to Sollee’s home and heart.

Devon Leger