Ben Sollee: The Hollow Sessions

Institute 193 is proud to release an album by the cellist and vocalist Ben Sollee in collaboration with the label Tin Ear Productions. Titled The Hollow Sessions, the album includes 10 covers of songs that have shaped Sollee’s development as a musician and songwriter, including tracks originally performed by Arthur Russell, Otis Redding, Paul Simon, Harry Belafonte, The Zombies, Howard Finster, Bill Monroe, Fiona Apple, Tom Waits, and Gillian Welch.

Sollee recorded the album in a house nestled in a hollow near Prospect, Kentucky. The unique aural qualities of this landscape -the sounds of birds, crickets, wind, and flowing water- are embedded in the music, and they situate the album in a specific time and place: summertime in rural Kentucky.

The house itself affects the unique acoustic qualities of each track. Sollee’s voice and cello resonate differently depending on a room’s shape and size; a listener can detect the shift in tone as he moves from the living room to the front porch. This honest, stripped-down recording environment allows Sollee’s unique style to shine through. His singular sound incorporates elements of folk, bluegrass, jazz, and R&B.

Sollee has visited this hollow for years, seeking refuge from hectic tour schedules. He says, “It’s a place to recharge and be still between the manic pace of the road. Over the years, I’ve written songs, ballets, and film scores while visiting and thought it would be a special place to share, at least sonically. We really featured its voice on the recordings. It is a magical place and I tried to let it conduct me.”

Ben Sollee has released four solo albums, including 2012’s Half-Made Man. His music has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the Houston Press, and on NPR and CNN.

The Hollow Sessions is available for free digital download here.

A limited-edition, 180 gram vinyl record is available here.