Verdict: 3 / 5
South Africans love house music, well maybe not everyone but a fair slice of the populous digs electronica. So there is always an opportunity for the next Fresh or Cleo to rock the scene and Sol is rocking Mzanzi right now. His eponymous debut may be house but it is a melting pot of styles, mixing electronic samples with Afro beats and rhythms. ‘Uhuru’, the single that catapulted Sol into the charts is a case in point. It is tribal, features the accordion and marimba and has African vocal melodies and phrases wafting in and out of the song, while still retaining its house appeal.
‘Home Coming’ is another afro/house amalgamation but while the beat is hypnotic the track is a bit ambitious and is overthought and clumsy. It just has too many ideas from animal noises to polyrhythms that don’t match up successfully. ‘Moon Cry’ might sound generic with the scatting vocal and saxophone but it is a great track and all the musical elements come together surprisingly well despite the Goldfish references. ‘Chalk and Cheese’ is a standout track. It has township beats but with lounge and acid jazz overtones and a tribal sounding organ that plays funky licks and riffs throughout. ‘Ready’ is simpler with strong percussion, organ and a sweet vocal by Accapella. ‘Easier’ is another tune with mass appeal, featuring more catchy vocal melodies over captivating percussion work. ‘Winter Sun’ is jazzy due to great brass work and the tribal bass line drives it along nicely, you’ll be stamping your feet before you know it.
Sol is a strong talent and while he overthinks and lays the ideas on too thick at times he is daring and adventurous in his composition, something any good writer needs. This is a good album and serves as a lesson for local artists to stick more closely to what they know and what is indigenous.