The Wind is Eric Bolander’s second solo album (following 2016’s Postcards to Myself). He’s a veteran of the Lexington, KY, music scene, first in local legends Modern Day Relic, and now in Alcatraz Shakedown. The Wind kicks off with the mid-tempo rocker, ‘Closer To That Flame’; the driving beat conjures up images of Sturgill Simpson’s recent output.
For an acoustic singer/songwriter, Bolander is incredibly versatile. Aside from the opener, the music varies from traditional country and Americana to rock, to perhaps the most intriguing track, a cover of Prince’s ‘Purple Rain.’ Long a staple of his live show, Bolander sets it down in the studio here. Covering Prince is generally not advisable, I have to say, rare is the artist who can pull it off. The obvious standard bearer is Sinéad O’Connor, for her 1990 rendition of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U.’ Patti Smith does a good job with ‘When Doves Cry,’ but generally, Prince is a good way for an artist to embarrass themselves. But, Bolander takes ‘Purple Rain’ and makes it his own. And in his hands, ‘Purple Rain’ becomes a plaintive acoustic banger. I have no other words for what he does to this song, it’s a banger.
Bolander is committed to his craft, as a songwriter, a musician, and in the studio. His music is warm, like old school analog warm, back in the day before digital music and digital recording. But his songs are also intricately structured. We did a feature on him on Monday this week, and in that, he talks about how he takes his time to properly structure his songs, beginning with a chord progression in his head, and then moving from there to creating the melodies, and only then does he get to words. And his guitar chops are second to none.
Most of the album centres around themes that are time-honoured in the genre, from heartbreak to wondering why the wind don’t just take him away (from the most excellent title track). His music conjures up the giants who have come before him, from the Allman Brothers to the Band and everywhere in between. But he is his own man, and on The Wind, Eric Bolander comes into his own as a solo artist.