Music Review

Book Reviews and Reading Diary
CD Buying Guide and Music Links
Best-of lists
CD Reviews
CDs, sorted by Style
CDs, sorted by year issued
CDs, sorted by publication review ran in
CDs by San Diego bands
All CDs, sorted by band name
All CDs, sorted by album title
Favorite quotations
Contact Me

Price digs deep into the grit

Sol Power
Sol Power
By Toni Price

Antone's / Discovery Records: 1997

Buy it on CD now from
Buy it now

This review first appeared in the November 15, 1997 edition of the American Reporter.

Toni Price has what every musicians lusts after, something precious and rare, a trait that sets her apart from everyone else.

No, it's not a pure voice. Plenty of forgettable singers have that. Impeccable timing? Nope – but you can find that in the better Vegas lounges next time you pass through.

What Price does have is better than the above: She is possessed of her own style, of a sound that is instantly identifiable as hers.

She even had it on the airwaves for a bit, back in '93 with an "adult alternative" hit in "Throw Me a Bone" from her first album. And while on that album she showed an affinity for hard, electric blues (with the sultriest stage presence this side of old Janis videos), her latest album seems more complete, more at home for the lack of stylistic cohesion.

Recorded live at a club in Alpine, Texas (wherever that might be), "Sol Power" is an eclectic collection of folk, country, blues and border songs, all performed in an acoustic setting. It's far closer in vision, style and taste to album by other members of the Austin underground – Tish Hinojosa, Guy Clark, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Townes Van Zandt – than Price's own earlier recordings.

Which is fine, because the broader range suits her rough, earthy and rich vocals better than straight barroom blues.

Price also benefits from another incredible collection of songs by longtime collaborator Gwil Owen – songs as good as anyone is writing today, songs that are poetic slices of everyday life and love. Given Price's tender handling, these little gems become profound glimpses into the corners of our own lives.

Look, you'll probably not hear her on the radio or find her interviewed in Rolling Stone, but Toni Price is becoming one of the best singers around.

Do yourself a favor and check her out.