on 20 February 2006
I saw Sophie playing at Koko and was hooked. The journalists are right, she really is like Keith Richards on stage. Her CD is magical - a wonderful mix of moods and passions. With the classical elements combined with wonderful rhythm, this CD will appeal to everyone. Burnt by the Sun is one of those songs you want to keep replaying and Lazarus with KT Tunstall is a such a great marriage of violin and voice. Bravo.
on 5 January 2006
What a fantastic album! I was recommended this by a friend and I just can’t get enough of it. Sophie’s violin playing is so exquisite, so moving and so enjoyable. This album is a genuine melting pot of styles, all of which Sophie combines masterfully. A true mix of classical, klezmer, eastern European folk and world rhythms, ‘Poison Sweet Madeira’ showcases the extraordinary talents of this young violinist. This is one of those rare albums where you never have to use the skip button, as each track is such a joy, revealing something new on each listen. Whilst Sophie sticks to playing the violin, there are a number of guest vocalists here such as Ralph Fiennes, Richard Hawley and most notably KT Tunstall. The Scottish songstress lends her voice to the beautiful ‘Lazarus’ which is definitely one of the album highlights. The combination of these two hot young female talents is just magnificent – a real treat!
As it was to me, I strongly recommend you check this album out. It is not often you can claim to have found something fresh, new and exciting, but this album truly stands out. An absolute gem just waiting to be discovered.
on 14 April 2006
Prepare to be hooked. I love any album that "takes some getting into," but this has enough atmosphere and musicality to etch its way into any romantic's head after about three playings. This is very much for lovers of tunes and life. It reminds me, in different places, of such diverse pleasures as quirky old Stackridge (from Bristol, UK) and Shakti (the John Mclaughlin/Shankar/Hussein fusion of guitar, violin and tabla).
There's jolly sawing, sensitive phrasing and baroque rocking. You can also feel, pretty consistently, the approval beaming in from Django and Stephane. There's variety here, then; certainly enough to delineate separate tracks and have you cueing around for individual delights that may subsequently take your fancy; but the whole disk is united by its mood of creativity and experiment around an authentic core, a distinctive style that beautifully combines elements of Russian, Continental, Eastern, Classical and no small measure of the avant garde - but all held together by a sense of real pleasure in the entertainment value of such forms as the Tango.
This album also brings back joyous memories of a one-off Nigel Kennedy concert with the Kroke band one night in Richmond (on Thames) a couple of years ago. (It was a largely "corporate" do and the assembled tuxedos and gowns seemed initially readier for a bit of Vivaldi - but the sheer joy and originality grew on most after a while; and instantaneously so, in the case of our own company's then receptionist, a young Slovakian more usually noted for her disco prowess but at once enchanted by sounds she immediately greeted with joyous cries of "It's my music!") There's something about Sophie Solomon's tunes that has staid old English me wanting to shout the same thing.
It helps that there's also a very decent pop sensibility at work, too (notable contributions from KT Tunstall and Ralph Fiennes included). Imagine being at a rock concert that suddenly presented you with a Cossack knees-up or transported you to a souk or synagogue, maybe put you on a bike through Paris or took you through the streets of London with incredibly good buskers doing string quartets and polkas on different corners. Then imagine all of the above shaken into a very tasteful cocktail with a unique flavour of its own. Poison Sweet Madeira is an absolutely delicious surprise, from the "world" (if you must) / symphonically rocking and reeling opening track, via various charms and tunes, to the terrific, Penguin (Café Orchestra)-flavoured finale.
Also, please eliminate from the start any qualms about this being the latest "lovely young thing does the classical bit." It started, I suppose, with Vanessa-Mae and has continued with some distressing recent examples; but, honestly, this lady's writing and playing is way, way beyond such ephemera, so pardon the same breath, and all that. The artiste herself, certainly, looks very fetching on the cover. It's your ears, however, that are in for an authentic, accomplished musical experience. This woman can really play; plus she writes tunes your brain and heart want to hear. She's not afraid of austerity and has a way of playing that should help make some of the less immediate material here - yes, klezmer included - more popular. For us, the best example is the Light That Never Dies, an utterly classy track that has Ralph Fiennes reciting an imagist poem against music that would be a perfect soundtrack to the result of the animators of Belleville Rendezvous having a go at a Third Man remake... or something in that vein.
Above all, what you get here is that rare treat of audible talent: fine, accurate technique, virtuoso, passionate playing and music that comes from deep cultural roots and achieves an effect that's at once old and familiar, fresh and intriguing. Fire up the samovar, get the vodka from the freezer, slice some spicy sausage, unwrap some chocolate and get down to this great, great album!
on 9 January 2006
" I was so lucky to see Sophie supporting Richard Hawley in London two months ago and I managed to buy a pre release copy of her album 'Poison Sweet Madeira'. It has been my best impulsive buy to date and I came onto Amazon to try and get more for family birthday presents, and for my friends who I've been playing this to non-stop! Sophie's album is a bit difficult to describe in words but it reminds me of Nick Cave or Gotan Project. There's an amazing track 'A light that never dies' where Ralph Fiennes does vocals, which is my favourite as it captures its own space and the sensuous tension rebounds throughout. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s such an eclectic mix of things like klezmer and tango that it just somehow draws you in and gets you hooked so you find you keep just needing to have one more listen!!”
on 21 March 2006
I have never heard music like it, or that even comes close! Sophie's music is the most stirring, sweet, lively, soothing music that you will ever hear. The opening track, Holy Devil, is a wonderful prelude to the rest of the album, and it doesn't disappoint. Buy this album, even if you have stumbled across it by accident. Believe me, you will be enchanted; it's what violins were made for!
on 7 August 2006
I was thrilled to hear Sophie played on the radio this week, on Desert Island Discs and Woman's Hour, and hope we hear her more often. I have to agree with the Daily Mail, she's "primed for solo stardom".
Her music is new and unique - intelligent gypsy mixed with cool,haunting and romantic beats. It's young and funky at the same time as provoking and sexy. She has you dancing, laughing and crying. BUY IT, you'll love it.