self-titled – Solomon
For some, the moment a jam band reaches a particular, magical peak in its
search for improvisational destiny is akin to a spiritually enlightened
moment. But no one has really approached the jam band scene with something
that, verbally rather musically, addresses such a thing.
In the case of Solomon (a.k.a Solomon DeNiro), he embraces his spiritual
side without making its presence too preachy or obnoxiously self-serving.
It’s more of a reflection of his state of mind. Besides, if the idea behind
Smile is considered a sermon, then it’s hard for anyone not to be
Usually sly references take care of matters, but there are occasions when
he relates his journey and his vision and it’s hard to not just cheer him
along his way but to go along over some of its distance. On Straight
to Me he addresses a Higher Being and, under a Jah-influenced rap, he
up in what seems like a conversation with a close friend. Or is he actually
On the opening track, Walk Not Run, Solomon sounds like a carnival
barker positioning himself and listeners for the grand entrance into his
musical journey. It’s a catchy method of stringing us along, and the
immediate sense of adventure beckons me inside. Aiding him in his musical
quest are several well-known musicians one wouldn’t expect to find on an
independent recording — John Popper of Blues Traveler, Trey Gunn of King
Crimson, Vernon Reid of Living Colour, Bernie Worrell of the Woo Warriors and
Mark Ribot. Popper’s spry harmonica runs add significantly on five tracks. The material combines elements of prog rock, hip-hop, world influences,
glam and possibly several other genres that passed by over the several
listens I gave "Solomon." He blends all the possibilities into a musical
stew, probably vegetarian, and serves it piping hot and spicy. Wash it down
with a little volume.
While I did enjoy the fact that Solomon approaches his muse with a
life-affirming zeal, it did take several songs
before I could adjust to his ways. What was initially striking about him
to some degree disconcerting, was his voice, which embodied Royston Langdon,
the singer from Spacehog and an obvious nod to David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust
days. He loses the vocal tone but retains the glam rock melodic flair on
Domique Dear, which also happens to be the closest to a concise and
single within the album’s 12 tracks.
Still, it ends up a small element of an album that’s high on good vibes,
spreading good karma and a strong sense of where it’s going. You won’t be
steered wrong by this modest prophet. Just as he requests earlier in the
album, in the end what "Solomon" makes you do is smile.