Published Feb 03, 2016What many don't know about Delta Spirit frontman and Middle Brother amigo Matthew Logan Vasquez is how prolific of a songwriter he is. Despite being a primary writer for both projects, Vasquez still had enough material to release an EP, Austin, in November and now an LP in the span of four months. The title of Vasquez's full-length debut solo album, Solicitor Returns, pays homage to a record he made years ago but was unable to release. Having wrapped up existing engagements with Delta Spirit for the time being, Vasquez was able to record, release and perform a set of personal songs that are a bit rougher around the edges than his followers may be used to.
The album opener and title track fades in with pulsating synth chords throbbing progressively louder, a momentous opening that builds and drops into second track "Maria." In these first few minutes, Vasquez sets a new tone steeped in distortion-soaked guitar and a looser jam-band atmosphere. The sonically unmoored collection drifts and collides to create interesting track transitions, none more so than the segue between the electricity of rock anthem "Everything I Do Is Out" and the ruminative folk vibes of "Black East River."
Thankfully, for those worried that solo Vasquez may have lost what gave his accompanied songs brilliance with the new grungier arrangement, Solicitor Returns still retains his distinctive brand of narrative-based songwriting. Fans familiar with his work on History From Below will especially appreciate "Bound To Her," a cryptic first person telling of an obscure murder case similar to "Ballad of Vitaly" in both plot and austerity.
Solicitor Returns feels like an album that Vasquez had to make, and had to make his way. The appropriately titled track "Personal" suggests as much when he confides "Don't you get it? It's not personal, I've got to strike out on my own"; it is worth noting that Vasquez - with the exception of two drum tracks and a guitar track - played every instrument on the record. As long as he has enough material left over for another Delta Spirit effort, I don't think fans of Vasquez's will mind if albums like Solicitor Returns become a regular occurrence. (Dine Alone)