Sol Nationself-titled EP by Sol Nation
Released September through MGM
Sol Nation is a seven-piece band from Melbourne that is about to hit the Australian tour circuit promoting its debut self titled EP.
Lead singer Paulo Almeida and guitarist Colin Badger were members of the Dili Allstars.
With his long dreadlocks, Almeida, born in East Timor, is a fixture of the reggae and Afro-Latin music scene in Melbourne. He sings in Portuguese, Tetum and English. He has played with bands like Natural Mystic and the Dili Allstars.
The Dili Allstars' song "Liberdade" became something of an anthem of the Timorese solidarity movement.
After East Timor voted to separate from Indonesia on August 30, 1999, the Dilis performed a few times in East Timor and released another couple of albums, including Increase the Peace (2006). Almeida's new project is Sol Nation.
The band draws on Cuban salsa, Brazilian samba, reggae, ska and hip hop rhythms. Tracks on the EP, "Bonita", "Forca" and "Beautiful Lady" are big, danceable tunes with seductive Portuguese lyrics. The sound of the seven-piece band in full swing brings the house down.
Percussionist Daniel Mrocki is skilled on the congas, timbales and bongos. Indigenous singer Deline Briscoe's back-up vocals complement Almeida's. Gerald Frederic plays manic keyboard, while the talented Colin Badger plays several different stringed instruments.
There are echoes of the Dilis, given Almeida and Badger penned all the lyrics, but the sound of the band is much bigger now.
This is still a band with a social conscience, albeit less overt than the Dilis. Themes like peace, dialogue and working together are all here.
East Timor still figures large, as on the track "Good Times" with lyrics like these:
"Four hundred years of foreign occupation, this is the time for the new generation to take control of the current situation, to build upon a stronger foundation. Let's not forget about our past, let's work together for a new path."
Sometimes their lyrics are a little twee, but their hearts are unmistakably in the right place. Tracks condemning corruption and the use of violence might sound a little naive, but the impact of corruption and violence are significant not only for East Timor, but many other places in the world.
Sol Nation is a group of highly talented local performers who draw on their musical roots and heritage to bring music that makes you think, and unleashes the dancing spirit in you. Details of gigs can be found at www.myspace.com/solnation.