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March 30, 2009 | by  | in Music |
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Sola Rosa – Get it Together

It’s raining outside and I’ve had a shitty week.

I’m wearing four layers of clothes and a wooly hat. Oh, and I’m cuddling my fuzzy-duck-covered hot-water bottle (his name is Duckingtonian). Despite all the measures I’ve taken against the cold my room still feels about as pleasant as an extended listen to 808s and Heartbreaks. In fact, I should be listening to 808s and Hearbtreaks.

But I’m not.

I’m listening to an album that I picked up from the Salient office today. It’s called Get it Together, by Sola Rosa, and I knew I’d chosen a bad time for a first impression the instant I heard the first funky bass note. Let’s get things straight; this is a summer album if I ever heard one. It’s warm, bright, and groovy. Think of a backing track from a Tribe Called Quest song, fill it in with extra color, trendy synths, lots of horn samples and the best production sheen that 2009 has to offer, and you get the general idea. Now, I love a Tribe Called Quest, but I don’t like a lot of the other things that get thrown into the mix on this album very much. It still made me smile though, which is an achievement, especially considering how cold my room feels. Why? Let’s start with the specifics:

Sola Rosa is the project of one Andrew Spraggon, and Get it Together is his fourth album. I have to admit I haven’t heard the others, but apparently they aren’t as good. Get it Together is pretty diverse. Spraggon’s beats blend together everything from jazz, soul, reggae, synth pop, dub and lounge music. If you rattled off that list to me I’d probably roll my eyes, but somehow Spraggon manages to make it sound pretty decent. Unless you are a genius, this kind of jack-of-all-trades approach is pretty much guaranteed to produce some high altitude bellyflops, and Get it Together has a couple. Take the the third track, ‘Del Ray’, which got on my nerves as soon as its sped-up Spaghetti Western horn loops rode into my ears. When a wobbly, faux-spooky synth turned up around two minutes later I decided it was time to skip to the next song.

Fortunately there are enough redeeming songs on Get it Together to make it worth persisting with. I particularly enjoyed ‘Turn Around’, the album’s lead single, which features soul singer Iva Lakum’s sultry, playful vocals and a wonderfully hooky chorus. Spraggon does a good job in not overdoing it with his horn samples, while a clicking palm-muted guitar is deployed to add just the right amount of James Brown-style attitude to the mix as well. Some of the turntable breaks get tiresome, and generally the tracks with vocals have greater staying power than Spraggon’s instrumental exercises in genre-mashing. Still, I enjoyed the album’s lack of pretention and its unabashed sense of fun. It’s just a shame I couldn’t have had this album for summer—the good tracks would surely have sounded at home alongside Sergio Mendes, Q-Tip, Will Smith and the Avalanches on my “Sunshine-Style” mixtapes.

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