Lenny Solomon,
Under My Hat
(independent, 2014)

Lenny Solomon's opening track on Under My Hat, "The Morning Song," makes it clear that he's from Boston. Not that it's a knockoff, but in it you can hear echoes of other Boston folkies, going back to Tommy Flanders, who also recorded a song celebrating the coming of morning. As did a number of other Boston writers. The topic is a local trope, and Solomon does a good job with his take on it.

If the New England connection isn't clear, he follows up with "Ode to Robert Frost," which is built on Frost's "The Road Less Taken" and laments Solomon's inability to write a poem as good as Frost's. It's a heart-felt song, sincere and deeply felt.

But then he tries to rock, on "Dog Eat Dog," a song that is exactly what you think it is from the title. It's dogmatic, predictable and preachy, everything that his best songs are not. When Solomon writes topical songs, he loses the ability to think in metaphors and figurative language, becoming direct and didactic, as he does in "The Fracking Song." Live, in front of an audience already made receptive, these songs could work maybe, but they do tend to bring down a pretty effective album.

Still, when Solomon is at his best -- as on "The Prisoner & the Jailer," a song that points out that both people are the same -- he is very good indeed. Lenny Solomon is a talented singer-songwriter and, maybe this is just a question of personal taste, but I wish that if he wants to write about social and political issues, he would do it with the skill and taste and use of language that he brings to his more personal songs.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

4 October 2014

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