Soledad – a Spanish idiom which roughly translates into English as “maker of the shoe” – is the latest album from post-avant bongoist Susan Alcorn. On this record, we find Susan scandalously dropping the bongos entirely as she plunges into the several-stringed waters of the steel guitar and resurfaces with 55 minutes of brooding, flourescent tango music. Following the style of revered tango master Badlands De La Fuente, Alcorn chooses to forgoe all unnecessary instrumentation on this record and provides us with a silky, skeletal suite of songs which are composed of almost nothing except guitar and silence.
The album opens with title track ‘Soledad’, which sounds like both a funeral waltz and a Zelda dungeon theme at one and the same time as it meanders sadly through its eight minute runtime. Reworking the central riff of tango standard “Baby I Wanna Be Your Shoe”, Alcorn conjures a dark, moody, quietly beautiful landscape that sets the tone for the rest of the record. “Invierno Porteno” (‘Portentous Firestorm’) follows immediately after, briefly building into a sedated flamenco at the two minute mark before returning to the wide-eyed star-gazing of the title track.
“Adios Nonino” (‘Goodbye No-Shoe’) is considerably less moody and is the only track here which feels a bit aimless, but is followed by ‘Suite For Ahl’ which mixes things up by adding in a jazzy double-bass. Alcorn makes the steel guitar sound playful here, demonstrating a bit of tonal variety with the instrument. And the album closes with the 17 minute ‘Tristezas De Un Doble A’ (‘A Pair Of Insoles’), which is a steel guitar cover of The Proclaimers ‘500 Miles’ played backwards and at 0.25 speed.
Soledad is a steady album that requires a bit of patience, but, even without the bongos, this is a wandering and melancholy album thats perfect for walking at night and staring up at the moon. Or playing Link To The Past.