Vera Sola's 'Peacemaker' Brims with Cinematic Grandeur

BY Jordan CurriePublished Jan 30, 2024


Vera Sola’s sophomore album feels like a long lost Western, complete with sweeping American landscapes, gun-slingers and a troubled heroine engulfed by the beauty and terror of the life she’s living. It’s a fitting atmosphere given Sola’s influences, from surrealist epics like Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain to the bold orchestra of Antonín Dvořák’s “New World Symphony.” There’s familiarity in these story beats and characters, but Sola uses them to create her own cinema brimming with mystery, romance and human complexity.

It’s been five years since the release of the American-Canadian songwriter’s debut album Shades, an entirely self-written, arranged and produced project. But Sola wanted to go bigger on Peacemaker, teaming up with co-producer Kenneth Pattengale to introduce richer sounds and textures. Rock, blues, country and folk mingle with dramatic orchestral flares, always guided by Sola’s powerful alto.

It’s clear that Peacemaker is a labour of love, and it shows off its grandness from the jump with “Bad Idea,” an acoustic folk turn with rousing strings. The song has a decidedly scene-setting quality, the first chapter of a beloved storybook before Sola writes herself into the depths. “The Line” shifts to heavier rock as she ruminates on the relentless cycle of life: “Cause it’s all just a long dark circle / Day is return to the looping of the line.” On “I’m Lying,” she admits to a love that, “I feel safe with you on pillow street” — a confession that conjures a dozen other streets in a dozen other lives. However, she offsets that intimate warmth with a flock of “I love you’s” that flutter like birds atop a galloping rhythm that feels closer to disorientation than safety. A similar pattern returns on the sweet hum of “Desire Path,” where Sola repeats “I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine.” It swells with anger and chaos as it unfolds, revealing the underbelly of darkness that groans beneath Sola’s lovely terrains.

Sola narrates in vignette-like flashes — on “Get Wise” she takes listeners on a quiet trip along dusky paths and makes “a break with a new disguise,” while on “Waiting” she watches a lover turn off the lights on their way out the door one last time. The eerie guitar and piano on “Is That You?” soundtracks the flood of memories that comes after running into someone you haven’t seen in ages; These recurring themes of loneliness and confused love can grow repetitive, deployed in similar ways from song to song, but Sola is still able to keep the imagery fleshed out and distinctive.

Brooding album closer “Instrument of War” is named for the Colt Single Action Army, a revolver handgun nicknamed the “Peacemaker” that was popular in the American Wild West. “You let him lay his heavy hands on me / So now I’m an instrument of war / I’m made up of drones and a nuclear core,” Sola sings, voice dripping with a mixture of pain and vengeance. In the end, she’s merged peace and violence as one, and has come to recognize that at times, the latter is necessary kindling for the former. 

(City Slang)

Latest Coverage