Solute: Fry, Fly, Cry

Community is not everything. However, community is a significant part of everything. We live in a time where separation or subjugation of others seems like typical currency. News and social feeds are almost entirely propped up with stories of socio-political discord, environmental failings, pathetic personal bickering. To seek out beauty, to find connection, and to establish community can be an exhausting prospect. Solute: Fry, Fly, Cry is a three part anthology borne of heartbreak, that stabs into the ground a statement of love, compassion and creative inclusion. It shows community. It is a release that shows the best of us.

The release is a tribute to the life and work of Jarrod Paul Bramson. Bramson was the singer/guitarist with The Solvents. On March 27 2019 he died at the age of 43.

Bramson and his wife Emily Madden were The Solvents. They did music the right way, occupying a space in the ‘industry’ that was uncompromising, unimpressed by temptations of the mainstream, and unadulterated in its unique quality. Their music offered insights humility, humanity, and it produced a catalog of songs that offered countless earworms, easy singalongs, and challenges. It’s no surprise then, that a community of PNW (and beyond) artists rallied to contribute and offer tribute to the songwriting chops of a man who so often hit the right tone. You can grab a free download of Solute from bandcamp. (link below) But y’know, it may be nicer if you paid a little something of what you can afford. Cash from sales will contribute to a fund for Madden and her family.

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Across three albums we’re offered a portrait in absentia of a man who knew how to work a pencil. Lyrically, Bramson cut to the quick of an issue. There is a simplicity to his words, allowing direct access to authentic heart. On ‘Tangerine’ – covered twice here in contrasting colors (once by Nigel O’Shea with Treejasons, once by Sandy Shores) – “…Listen to reason, as we undress…” is a line like so many others from The Solvents that hangs above us with incredible gravity. An analysis of love in all of it’s colors and complexities seems like an endeavor reserved for more bombastic artists. But no. The unassuming, quiet confidence of this material is what will dismantle a heart.

Later in the sequence Kimya Dawson, Len Enders and Katrina Hanawalt cover ‘Average Angel’, and in doing so they issue license to cry. Rhymes are easy in this description a famous, fallen angel. The story shares the perspective of how music can save a life; how songs can offer solace, and how we gain beauty when we sing along with friends. The intimacy of this cover reveals the courage at the center of The Solvents songwriting. Breaking out with wit and vulnerability a bigger sense of things is offered up.

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In a three-part collection it’s a fool’s errand to dismantle a tribute into constituent parts. The sequencing of songs is a masterstroke: ‘Fry, Fly, Cry’ offer categorical tones of humanity, magic, and loss. The reflective timbre of progress through The Solvents work offers moments to celebrate as well as to lament. Emily Madden’s contribution ‘Golden Chains’ carries with it an emotional charge, both in performance and poetic content. Singing with Bramson she had a voice that sailed. Here, in solo performance she could alter the course of an entire fleet.

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Sourced from a variety of artists, and recorded remotely, the consistency of tone and levels is almost seamless. Production is sound, and the mixes are solid, they honor source and performance.

Solute: Fry, Fly, Cry is a bittersweet release. It can be difficult to celebrate the work of an artist when his absence is so acutely articulated. The humanity of Bramson is felt in each of these recordings, as is his reach, and the affect that he had on his peers, friends, and family.

The sense of loss here is not small. However, the sense of magic and the immortal presence of poetry, as Bramson leans back into his community, reveals significant grace. This is the kind of shit that can remind us ourselves and save us all.

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