soledad velez

Soledad Vélez ‘Wild Fishing’ (Absolute Beginners Records)

soledad velez



According to the general consensus Soledad Vélez’s brand of labored folk sounds somewhat familiar. And as for that bewailing quivering timbre…well, it goes without saying that it starts to grate after a while.

If the laying-it-on-thick flowery PR spill is to be believed, Vélez is comparable to the likes of PJ Harvey, Nina Simone and Diamanda Galas, or at least evokes them (one out of these three has a ring of truth about it anyway).

Why it maybe right to take these over-baked comparisons with the proverbial pinch-of-salt, and to heed much of the criticism, the Chilean singer does project a certain quality. Her debut album has, in truth, a tendency to drag and lacks variety, yet there is something appealing and sagacious about the rich tones and plaintive strains in Vélez’s vocal deliverance that makes this traversed oeuvre a worthy challenge.


Influenced by a litany of styles and artists from outside her homeland, her lament peppered landscapes pine for the imagined lush greenery of North America and Europe, but also reflect the elongated versant mountain ranges and deserts of Chile itself. A moody combination of South American twanged western and up-tempo shuffling folk indie, Wild Fishing trembles and moans with an emphasis on solace and bitter fought love. Those pained romantic charges are at worst stretched out over a laconic set of near unfathomable verses, and at best delivered with an unreserved spirit on the more “swinging” tunes.

Warbling like a rustic-charmed Chrisse Hynde on the pleasant opening ‘Black Light In The Forrest’, Vélez gently ushers the listener into a world of contralto cooed longing (‘Hug Me’); Tindersticks-esque break-up (‘Birds’); and philosophical musings and reflection (‘Don’t Worry Babe’).  Without a doubt the breezier – if you can call them that – jangly numbers remain the highlights; though the eponymous title track, which closes the album, is a among the best that our troubadour has to offer. This final tragic soliloquy that musically moves like the tidal theme with a totem stomp beat and heave-ho wails is ripped apart by a tumult squall of lashing and squealing electric guitar; sinking then rising up for air.

A promising if at times laborious slog, Soledad Vélez’s burgeoning LP remains a hard sale and listen. I’m convinced however that it will be worth all that work.


Released 3rd September 2012



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