Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Vera Sola's Peacemaker balances pop know-how and theatrical flair


Release date: 02 February 2024
Vera Sola Peacemaker cover
02 February 2024, 10:10 Written by John Amen

Building on her debut, 2018’s Shades, Vera Sola offers her equally absorbing second LP, Peacemaker, navigating enticing melodies and vocals, as well as intriguing lyrics.

Complemented by tasteful accents and rhythmic washes (courtesy of co-producer Kenneth Pattengale and a cast of talented musicians), Sola stirs tensions and provides catharses, invoking the bliss, heartbreak, and vies for freedom that define human existence.

“Night is only a passing thing / we’ll be back when it’s right”, she moans on “The Line”, perhaps connecting the early disappearance of parents (by abandonment or death) to the singer/character’s eventual choice to become a bomb tech (“the ticking and / the clipping of the wires”). The song marks Sola’s segue from balladic minstrel to irrepressible chanteuse. Also, it’s no surprise that Sola studied poetry with Jorie Graham at Harvard. Her work, including Peacemaker’s nonlinear narratives and subtle surrealism, displays a clear literary bent.

On “Get Wise”, staccato chords unfurl in contrast to Sola’s balmy voice, a loose rhythm and clattery atmosphere recalling Swordfishtrombones-era Tom Waits. “Desire Path” likewise displays Sola’s breadth, the singer integrating such diverse inspirations as the retro-mainstream Nancy Sinatra, country-inflected k.d. lang, and salon-experimental Jenny Hval. She could, on one hand, carry a mainstream theme song a la Adele but, on the other, would be a suitable pick for the edgier David Lynch should he be seeking a replacement for Julee Cruise.

The spaciousness of “Waiting” is reminiscent of the starker mixes on Shades, though precisely placed synth notes and dabs of reverb distinguish the track. “So leave the lights on when you say goodbye / I want to know you’re gone for good this time,” Sola declares, revelling in a meld of sensuality and remove. “Bird House”, too, is a steamy and disorienting take (“barefoot down the hallway / turning on the lights in the empty rooms”), Sola metaphorizing an existential limbo. Ambient flourishes and percussive rolls enhance her ghostly vocal.

“Load me up with landmines,” Sola commands on closer “Instrument of War”, stepping into warrior pose. “I’m going out to settle my scores”, she concludes, throwing down the gauntlet. Dolores Abernathy and Maeve Millay from Westworld come to mind; and yet, one can’t help but regard the singer as a tragic figure, a modern-day and ill-destined Medea. She’s rueful but determined, accepting yet furious about the ways of the world. In this way, Sola concludes Peacemaker much as she launches it, striking a sublime balance between pop know-how and theatrical flair.

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