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PRESSURE DROP

Savanah Solomon
Savanah Solomon

For a hot minute in 2019, Savanah Solomon and her band, the Strays, were just about the hottest property on the Perth music scene.  Their album, Salt Of The Earth, made it into Around The Sound’s top 10 albums of the year and, post the sold out launch at the Indian Ocean Hotel, Savanah and the Strays seemed to be playing on every bill in every venue in town, wowing crowds and winning new fans with their gritty-sweet take on country rock.  It all unravelled when one of their members departed the camp early in 2020.  Since then, we’ve heard nothing from Solomon.  Until now.

Solomon has the world at her feet..

Solomon’s recently released solo single, ‘Lost In Love’, heralds something a comeback for this artist, who seemed ready to take on the whole world just a few short years ago.  It’s a beautifully understated country heartbreaker that relies on minimal instrumentation to carry Solomon’s vocal.  The lyric tells of Solomon’s very personal journey into and out of a relationship and her discovery that, when it comes to love, love of self is paramount.

“I actually wrote this song two years ago,” Solomon said, “and it’s just about me realising that I had lost myself in a relationship and didn’t know where I was anymore. It’s about me ending this relationship and this journey I go through in trying to find myself and love myself again, and just not needing that external validation from other people.”

It’s a universal theme, and few have said it better than Solomon who, in the refrain to ‘Lost In Love’ sings, Love is a beautiful thing / Until you lose yourself in it.  Coming out the other side of that, Solomon also gives the current generation of young women words to live by when she sings, I’m a woman / I am myself / I don’t need a man / To complete my world.

It’s the sort of stuff that some insecure, idiotic, male — always male — keyboard warriors rail against on social media.  They’re missing the point, their pea brains too desiccated to understand that all Solomon and her generation of artists are doing is pointing out, with more kindness and patience than some of us deserve, that no one in this world needs another person to endorse their existence.

When we spoke about this aspect of ‘Lost In Love’, Solomon said, “I feel like it’s a very empowering song.  The song to me, there’s a lot of pain in it, but it’s about turning pain into empowerment. That’s what I really wanted people to know from this song, I wanted them to know that they’re worthy and don’t need that external validation. To fully love yourself is such a hard thing sometimes and I think it’s a journey that everyone is on. You just have to try and remember that you are worthy.  It’s definitely a journey I’m still on but I feel like I’m getting there.”

There is a quiet authority to Savanah Solomon when you meet her in person.  We first came across each other at the 2019 launch of Salt Of The Earth, a show Solomon and her band kicked off with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop.’  It was a bold move to which Savanah and the Strays were entirely equal, following with a scintillating set of originals that showcased the range of Solomon’s capabilities, from gritty rocker who should one day get an opportunity to smash her guitar (or do whatever she wants to do) on Saturday Night Live, to country balladeer. 

The understated polish of ‘Lost In Love’ should come as no surprise, then.  It is a brilliant return from an artist who has only grown in stature during her hiatus, enforced by the breakup of her band and, of course, COVID.  We spoke about both over a pot of tea in the cultural wilds of Greenwood.

“I really do miss playing in a band,” said Solomon.  “It’s something that I will consider doing again.  With a band, I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I think you have to make sure, as well, that everyone has the same level of drive and is committed and reliable.  It’s kind of empowering doing it on my own, because I’m not relying on other people.   Doing it on my own has been really fun.”

Listening to Solomon speak about her evolution into a solo artist, it’s difficult not to see this moment in her career as anything but a necessary adjustment.  Perhaps, from her own perspective, the camaraderie of being in a band shielded Solomon from the weighty sense of responsibility that comes with being the sole creative driver. 

Speaking about the process of writing and recording ‘Lost In Love’, Solomon said, “I kind of went into it having a rough idea of what I wanted.   At one stage [in the recording] my sound engineer was like, ‘Where do you want to go now?’ and I really had no clue.  At the start it was quite daunting because I didn’t have band mates, I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off.  I had to kind of reach out [to the session musicians] and go, ‘Hey look, I’ve got some ideas, can you help me out?  I’d love to catch up and just have a jam.’  It went really well, but it was definitely daunting at the start.  I just learned to go with what felt right, you know, not second guess myself.”

Much like the song, it seems that the process of its creation also was a learning moment for Solomon, one through which she discovered that, as both a woman and an artist, she stands tallest when she stands on her own two feet.  Of course, this doesn’t preclude collaboration, but being able to produce music that aligns with your own creative vision must be just about the most satisfying thing in the world.

The motif of falling in love with oneself pervaded Solomon’s words on the day we spoke, her quiet self-assurance the top note in a conversation that also plumbed the depths of her self-doubt.

“You know what’s funny?” Solomon asked me as we poured more tea.  “I had kind of an initial idea of how I wanted [the song] to turn out, a rough idea, and then I went through all these options and that’s when it was getting daunting and I was trying not to freak out.  I had to really think about what I wanted to actually sound like and, in the end, I went back to what I’d initially thought of.  I had to stop getting too excited.  I decided to let the song speak for itself.”

Just as ‘Lost In Love’ speaks for itself, so does the artist.  Solomon has the world at her feet in a way that just wasn’t possible with the Strays and in pre-COVID days.  The breakup of her band and the pandemic-enforced hiatus that followed were eventual gifts for Solomon, giving the space and time to begin to find herself and to slow things down.

“That’s definitely something that I’ve learned from COVID,” said Solomon.  “We’re running at this pace that’s too fast for ourselves.  You’re trying to churn out songs, you’re trying to keep up with everyone and you’re not enjoying it because there’s this pressure.  I learned to slow down and to try to have a balance, which is something I’m still trying to figure out.  I think sometimes you get caught up still with trying to do so much.

“From myself, as someone who is a perfectionist and is incredibly hard on myself, I’m learning to enjoy the moment a bit more, enjoy the rewards and enjoy life and, you know rest, and relax.”

Which is why, even with its Triple J airplay and top three chart position in the AMRAP Regional Community Radio Chart, Solomon isn’t yet working on a follow up to ‘Lost In Love’.

“I’ve got no other works in progress,” said Solomon.  “I really wanted to enjoy this experience and not rush things.  Our society so fast paced everyone’s churning out singles after singles.  I’ll do something else when I’m ready, there’s no rush.  I’ll know when it’s right.”

Then, ever the creative, Solomon came out with, “But I’m definitely scheming up lots of ideas.  I just I don’t want to feel rushed.  I want to enjoy it.”

Warming to the theme, Solomon continued to say, “I want to be doing it out of enjoyment out of wanting to reach out to people, so I think I’ll always have another job in the background just so there isn’t that level of stress.  I just want to keep it real, just be in love with it and not have to put pressure on myself.”

In years to come, it’s likely that ‘Lost In Love’ will be seen as a turning point in Savanah Solomon’s career.  Her first solo single marks a shift in both the artist and her music.  Here is someone who has come through creative and personal self-doubt and found that their shoulders are broad enough to carry any weight.

Whatever comes next — whenever it comes — it is bound to be highly anticipated and will likely further raise the stakes creatively.  Solomon is still top 10 in Around The Sound’s estimation and headed for a long stint at the top of the charts any time she’s ready.

Indigo Blaze photo by Isabelle Haubrich Indigo Blaze photo by Isabelle Haubrich

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