Sole & the Skyrider Band

It would be a stretch to call this a concept album. Yet on Hello Cruel World, Sole comes back to the theme of how modern society is hostile to intelligence and creativity. But he never prescribes the despair and pessimism he expresses here as the solution. "Hello Cruel World" cleverly references Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan in the line "Human life is cruel, short and brutish." Hobbes, of course, was a pragmatist in a time of political chaos. Sole, meanwhile, is an idealist in similar times who won't get played by low-rent temptations. Across this album, he maps out how skepticism tempered with honesty and integrity is necessary for survival. On "DIY" and "Vaya Con el Diablo," Sole minces no words in denouncing the industry, sanctimonious idealists and unenlightened self-servers. A bracing listen throughout, Hello is dense with vibrant ideas, poetry and wisdom.

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