Soltero – Out at the Wall

Soltero
Out at the Wall

At the end of the May, Tim Howard from the mostly-one-man-band of Soltero will release his fifth full-length studio album, You’re No Dream. In the meantime, we have “Out at the Wall”. The latest effort is said to be moving away from the fuller sound of the band and getting back to a more intimate sound like that of the older collections. But the truth of the matter is that Soltero has really been mostly a solo gig anyway, with musically-inclined friends rotating in and out to round out the sound from time to time. Even without the extra vocal layers or musical details, the Soltero sound doesn’t waver and continues to deliver what it always has, intelligently-crafted music with folk roots and a quirky twist. This is not your average, everyday singer-songwriter.

Soltero is one of those gems that has remained just under the surface for years now. Probably one of the reasons Soltero stays fairly unknown is that the band is not exactly radio-friendly pop music. Instead Howard crafts tunes from sparse, broken heart ballads fit for a poorly-lit bar to lively, well-layered tunes that border on pop but are a bit quirky and contain more intelligent lyrics than you are likely to find from many of those groups frequenting the radio waves. What makes Soltero so special is the well-crafted and often times poetic lyrics, amazingly versatile qualities that make for a diverse set of songs throughout each album and even within Howard’s voice itself. He can go from a low growl to a high-pitched wine to produce songs that you would think included multiple vocalists.

“Out at the Wall” sits somewhere between lonely and upbeat, more in the vein of previous tunes like “Songs of the Season” from Hell Train and “The Tongues You Have Tied” from the album of the same name. But unlike his previous songs that, despite the upbeat flavor of the accompanying music the lyrics still maintain a somber mood, “Out at the Wall” feels more lighthearted. Beginning with a bouncy bass line, the tambourine and acoustic chords ride along on wave of what I think might be optimism. But since this emotion is a bit foreign to Soltero, I say this with hesitation.

Howard’s voice is soft yet raspy throughout with high-pitched, whiney multi-tracked chorus lines layered so nicely that without having heard Hell Train you may not think adding a band into the mix might be over kill. The song jams out with layered vocals and hopping bass that you leave wanting more.

On first listen it is possible that you might not find that special glimmer withing Soltero. But just in case this does happen to you, listen again, you’ll see it.