Los Angeles, California-based songwriter and musician Steven Wolfe teamed up with vocalist Myla Snow to form the progressive country band known as Soles Of Passion. As former mortgage and real estate professionals, they were in a prime position to watch The American Dream (owning one’s own home) evaporate before countless millions of hardworking homeowners since 2008. As artists, they have set themselves as a goal to support victims of what they refer to as “the national foreclosure machine”.
Their latest album, Escape From Jurisdiction B—set to be released this summer—is a collection of eight tracks spanning two major categories.
The first category consists of songs inspired by the driving creative force for this album, which is the divisions of class and commerce that created the context within which the 2008 crisis happened in the first place. One might expect such songs to be heavy and almost dreary to listen to. However, while introspective and contemplative, none of them are anywhere near depressing. “Tax Slave” for example is a funk and almost jazzy rock tune driven by a fun saxophone and an energetic electric guitar. It takes a surprisingly fun look at all the taxes levied on Americans, with only the gritty vocals—which come as quite the contrast with the cheerful and crystalline instrumentation—underlining the importance of the topic covered.
Similarly, “Jurisdiction B” is a drum-driven energetic track that channels a positive and non-destructive spirit of rock rebellion meant to inspire an escape from Jurisdiction B, where the 99% serve the 1% in Jurisdiction A. The duo brings in all the punches here, with almost every instrument they have in the arsenal, particularly a violin and a banjo. Albeit a little slower and more introspective than the other two, “A Place Of My Own” remains almost cheerfully radio-friendly despite the heavy topic it discusses. This light, mid-tempo alternative rock number chronicles the plight of a personal friend of the band who dealt with foreclosure during the 2008 crisis.
The second category of songs focuses on topics that are not related directly to the above-mentioned context but rather to the broader human experience. The mid-tempo electronic rock drum and synthesizer-led “Say I Will” channels the 1980s. Cheerful and upbeat, with a fun electric guitar line weaving in and out from the background and into the lyrics, it gives a heavy note of hope by encouraging listeners to believe and say that they can make a difference. The funk rock, guitar-led “Wheezy Hissy Fit” is a mid-tempo, almost tongue-in-cheek, uplifting look at dealing with negative people, a topic that ironically enough could generate more negativity which Soles of Passions avoids.
Filed under progressive country means that Escape From Jurisdiction B borrows from some other genres, including pop, progressive, and electronic rock, to create songs that remain uplifting despite the heaviness of the topics broached. It is quite powerful when artists choose to engage in their craft for the sake of the improvement of the world. The challenge though for all of them, including Soles of Passion, will remain to not present a one-dimensional view of these issues but to delve into them and provide a more complex one. Thankfully the auditory experience listeners will embark on as the duo figures out how to do so will probably remain as enjoyable as it has been in Escape From Jurisdiction B.
Pictures provided by RMG.