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Solace for the Lonely

(Dualtone; US: 21 Feb 2006)

You don’t have to be lonely to gain solace from this album. It is enveloping, it’s baby bathwater warm, sun on your cheek, relaxing. But not New Age relaxing, so relax. There’s nothing at all goopy about RobinElla’s fine fourth record, Solace for the Lonely. Even though there should be. Her multi-instrumentalist husband, Cruz Contreras, is credited in the liner notes, along with playing mandolin and piano and more, as “Daddy, friend, and lover”. The storm troopers of cool are merciless regarding such violations. But RobinElla’s voice is the ultimate Jedi mind trick, all sweet and sexy and tender and aglow, supple with subtle twang, and deep and stirring with the kind of soul that makes you look twice at the pics in the CD booklet. Not that skin color—nor, certainly, skin tone—should be of concern when evaluating the merits of a singer-songwriter. And RobinElla is a very good writer, blending low-key Americana with Joni-esque folk-‘n’-jazz into a sumptuous sound. Last year, I came across the opening cut (a lead single, I suppose), “Break It Down Baby,” and was instantly taken with it. You will be, too. And, soon you’ll find that the whole album has slowly worked its way through you, like a new good mood. No need to fight it. Lonely or not, your solace has been found.


Michael Keefe is a freelance music journalist, an independent bookstore publicist, and a singer/guitarist/songwriter in a band. Raised on a record collection of The Beatles, Coltrane, Mozart, and Ravi Shankar, Michael has been a slave to music his whole life. At age 16, he got a drum set and a job at a record store, and he's been playing and peddling music ever since. Today, he lives in Oregon with his wife (also a writer, but not about music), two cats, and a whole lot of instruments and CDs.

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