“I see this record as a sort of topography of memory. It’s a collection of stories stitched together with that particular dreamlike quality which allows for disparate spaces to converge into a single scarcely knowable vastness.” So says Vera Sola of her sophomore album, Peacemaker, released five years after her incredible 2018 debut, and the record is pretty well described with these words. With orchestral arrangements, excellent songwriting and an outstanding vocal delivery that masterfully combines influences ranging from Antonín Dvořák’s ‘New World Symphony’, which explores American history and landscapes, to the rawness of Tom Waits in the 1980s, her Southern Gothic style now gains an even more dramatic dynamism.
Sola’s explanation of the title, that it has “a personal significance to my family lineage of old west gunslingers,” sets the mood once for the record. This time, she recorded the album in Nashville at the end of 2019 with the assistance of co-producer Kenneth Pattengale and a large group of musicians. In the years that followed, Sola let everything around her fall apart, which gave the eleven songs even more significance and gave her the space to reflect on themes like death and impermanence. Stories of love and sorrow, desperation and pounding hearts are woven together to create a stunning portrait, much as in a set of Chinese boxes. All of the stories are held together like tales under an ancient, black-and-white circus tent by stabbing guitars and bass lines that sound like heartbeats. This is life, in all its wonder and terror.