Solotundra are an Italian alt-country/folk led by multi-instrumentalist Andrea Anania who plays guitar, bass, piano and banjo (though presumably not all at the same time) as well as taking on vocal duties. Turns out he’s a very decent songwriter with an album replete with surprises too.
It may not be the most popular instrument in the world, but the banjo is at the core of Solotundra’s best work. After a polite and rather safe opening two tracks, ‘Queen Bee’ is simply thrilling as Anania combines the throaty menace of his own vocal with the rattling intensity of his banjo picking. That same instrument is a focal point for the similarly frenetic ‘Traces Of You’ and a rather more tender – but no less effective – ‘Song For Christian’. Also of note are a lovely warm ‘A Monster’, the impressive quiet/loud dynamics of ‘Franco’ and a rousing finale called ‘The Deepest Pit’.
With its reliance on traditional instruments and folk/country trappings, ‘What We Did Last Winter’ may not sound like the most exciting of prospects yet its delivered in a fresh, crisp way, with the ferocity of a punk performer. This is definitely the kind of folk/country album which could win over those who don’t normally have the time for this kind of music.