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Rodriguez, Sollee: unusual pairing meshes

Club Passim, Cambridge, Mass., January 27, 2010

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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The combination of Carrie Rodriguez and Ben Sollee and their sometimes country, often rootsy/Americana music was apparently too much to pass up as the venerable folk club drew a full house on hump day. With good reason.

The evening included separate -hour sets by both performers (Rodriguez's opening stint was missed by this reviewer) and a final set together. El Salvador, a song she penned with Gary Louris of The Jayhawks, and the final tune of the regular set, a Spanish song written by her great aunt in the 1930s. "It may sound pretty," Rodriguez joked, "but believe me, it's not." While unsure of the meaning of the lyrics, the soft sounding melody definitely met the pretty factor.

Sollee, who has a disc out in February on SupPop with Daniel Martin Moore, has more of a bluesy tint to his voice. He is far more rootsy than country. Playing cello added some good musical colorings to the songs as well. He also has a sense of humor, rapping on Ice-T's 99 Problems to a different kind of beat. Obviously, this was tongue in cheek, but give these guys credit for making it work.

During Sollee's set, the Kentucky native called Sarah Jarsoz out of the audience. The Texan, who attends school in Boston at the New England Conservatory of Music, has one CD under her belt on Sugar Hill Records and a Grammy nomination for Mansinneedof . Jarosz proved to be a quality singer. Jarosz returned for the first encore with a funkified version of Cat Stevens' Wide World with Sollee on lead vocals, which also hit the mark.

On paper, the meshing of Rodriguez and Sollee did not appear to be a natural fit, but together, no problem.