Solomon is an eclectic Boston-based band comprised of Lenny Solomon (on lead vocals and acoustic guitar), Bill Gibbs (on acoustic lead and bass guitar, mandolin and banjo) and Dennis Gurgul on drums. Lenny Solomon writes all of the songs, which on Not Life Threatening range over several musical genres, from country to rock to more traditional folk and pop. What distinguishes the band is a very tight sound grounded by Solomon's and Gibbs' guitars, and driven by Gurgul's drums.
The recording opens with the tongue-in-cheek country tune Fishin'. The melody, powered by the skilled fingers of Bill Gibbs on lap steel guitar, catches you up in its rhythm and gets you moving.
Lilac Night, on the other end of the musical scale, is soft and lovely, and dwells on sentimental thoughts and dreams. Slim Cedrone takes us there with his harmonica, ending this quiet ballad.
Radio Days pokes fun at what Joni Mitchell called the "starmaking machinery." The singer cuts a tune and sends it to stations all around the country. It gets some airplay and some feedback. In the end the singer goes back to his guitar, "trying to find the formula to write myself a hit."
The sound of the early Sixties is captured in Thoughts of You, a love song from someone looking back on what could have been. Bill Gibbs on lead electric guitar is particularly good here.
The recording closes with a moving rendition of a song called Not Life Threatening. It tells the story of an older woman who complains of symptoms like loss of appetite and weakening of the muscles. The doctor tells her to go home and stop complaining - "it's not life threatening." But, of course, you know the rest of the story. She begins to grow weaker and fail, and a few weeks later a neighbor finds her dead in her bed. Does her life matter? Does any life matter? You bet. And without hope and caring, the symptoms are life threatening. The tune is well written and ably performed by Lenny Solomon and the band.
In listening to the Solomon band and their ability to cover all genres in a distinctly country-rock/folk-rock style, a number of groups come to mind, but the Grateful Dead most of all. Like the Dead there is great musicianship here and great fun. But most of all these guys know how to have fun with the music and approach it with a little tongue in their cheek, and a twinkle in their eye. Pick up a copy of Not Life Threatening and enjoy the journey the music takes you on. You are going to have a great time.
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