Sol Power

Toni Price

Antone's / Discovery Records, 1997

http://toniprice.net

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/19/1998

It's nice when music transcends categorization - it may wrack radio programmer's brains, but it helps expand the horizons of the listeners.

Take Toni Price as an example. Her latest album, Sol Power is a live effort on a blues label - a release that is anything but blues. Instead, it's an exciting mix of country and folk - with possibly a touch of rock mixed within.

A live set recorded at Railroad Blues in Alpine, Texas, the star of this album might not solely be Price herself, though her vocals are quite good. To overlook the guitar and fiddle talents of Champ Hood, and the guitar work of Scrappy Jud Newcomb and Casper Rawls would be criminal, for they create the texture of this album that makes it special. Price's vocals simply are the icing on the cake.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I often think of the Indigo Girls when I listen to Sol Power; "Like The Sun" is a great vocal workout and groove-based number, while "Run, Run, Run" also conveys some high-quality energy thanks to Price's vocals. The light country touches on the album are especially evident on "The Old Fiddler's Waltz" and "A West Texas Lullaby," songs which harken back to the days of traditional country artists like Hank Williams.

A surprising discovery on Sol Power is the audience - namely, how listless they sound. Sure, it's nice when you can hear an audience member shouting "Wonderful!" at the end of "The Old Fiddler's Waltz," but at other times it sounds like they're more engaged in their own conversations than paying attention to the music. And their howling in response to Price's on "Cats And Dogs" - well, it frightened me. It might have been better, in fact, to edit the crowd out of this one.

In addition, when Price tries to get more rock-oriented, she just falls flat. Fortunately, this only happens once, on her cover of Lee Dorsey's "Funky," further proof that white people shouldn't try to be funky. The only other questions I have on this album are the opening and closing montages comprising of train sounds. Unless these were for opening and closing credits for a home video, I really don't see the purpose of including them on this album.

Those minor complaints aside, songs like "Burnin' Down," "Sarah" and "#1" create such a blend of folk and country that it will appeal to fans of both genres. And though this was released on Antone's, a blues-based label, I would argue that it fits in with the down-home roots of the label. (Price provided guest vocals on fellow labelmate Candye Kane's most recent album.)

Sol Power shines brightly on many tracks, and is able to transcend the few mistakes to create an enjoyable album you'll find yourself going back to again and again. But here's hoping that Price try to capture this magic in the studio next time - the audience might just be livelier.

Rating: B+

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Antone's / Discovery Records, and is used for informational purposes only.