ACL Live Shots
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Oct. 9, 2009
Ben SolleeOct. 4, Zilker Park
Seated with his cello center stage between accompanying fiddle and drums, Ben Sollee radiated a boyish charm under the Wildflower Center tent. Opening gently behind the plea of "A Few Honest Words," Sollee's songs waged the political and personal with his soulful, high-ranging croon and dexterous string arrangements, "How to See the Sun Rise" emerging through a reverb warp to an easy groove and "Mute With a Bullhorn" opening with wafting atmospherics. Though Sollee's capable of bending his instrument with impeccable precision and eclectic, genre-defying flair, the set largely maintained a straightforward dynamic, never ranging too experimental and suggesting that for all his young talent, there remains potential still untapped. "It's Not Impossible" popped beautifully as the Kentuckian worked the neck of his cello like a harp, while "Panning for Gold" hypnotically flowed and "Bury Me With My Car" brought a fervent string breakdown with fiddle that kicked. Sollee's distinctive covers provided the crowd highlights, however, especially his reworking of Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come," and his closing, celloed version of Cat Stevens' "Wild World."