Villalobos is a songwriter already known for her willingness to dwell unflinchingly in reality but on Sola she goes even deeper, holding her heart up in all its vulnerable lucidity. Each song on Sola has lines and melodies that scrape away the layers of denial that get us through the everyday, therefore this album is not for the faint hearted. Like the realist short stories of Raymond Carver, her songs are visceral anthems in which one senses the bottom has fallen out, making visible the seriousness of what’s at stake, the songs affirm that possibility has always existed…and in fact still exists.
Villalobos became one of the most acclaimed artists in the Americana community with her breakthrough album, Rock N Roll Pony. Legendary BBC disc jockey, Bob Harris called it “a contender for album of the year” while Pop Matters declared her to have “unquestionably the finest voice in the country-rock genre today.” Avoiding the sophomore jinx, Villalobos’ next offering succeeded. Miles Away was released in 2006 to the same, critical plaudits, as her acclaimed predecessor received. Paste Magazine hailed it as”...timeless, it combines every element that makes a recording classic." Summer of 2009 saw Villalobos releasing Days on Their Side. American Songwriter raved that the songs came “off the speakers like holographic Cracker Jack surprises” and stated that Villalobos had “taken the Lucinda Williams/Sheryl Crow model to a new level, (and it's about time somebody did).”
In 2011, exhausted and creatively empty, Villalobos took a break from making music. "I was done, my hunger for it was like a numb finger. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t draw, I had no imagination or ability to reflect anymore, nor did I have the physical energy to do so but the impulse (opposed to the hunger), to create was still there so I enrolled myself in a music program at LACC. I liked the immediacy of its rewards. It gave me instant gratification, and eventually the impulse to create turned into a viscous hunger that I had been purposely ignoring. I found myself looking up from a deep dark well and from this well is where the songs on the new record came from."
In January of 2012 Villalobos began working on her 5th studio album, Sola. She assembled a group of talented and accomplished musicians to bring to life her songs. “Sometimes songs need candlelight and sometimes they need a lone tumbleweed blowing across them. It’s about setting up mood and attitude. I like painting a different scene when it comes to the arrangement and creation of parts. It's a fine line though, I am not going for an avant guard sound, I'm just looking for different ways to ignite the engines of the songs, the engines that move them forward into their finished form, like developing a character in a movie.”
The song “Hold on to Rockets” is an example of Villalobos’ effort to create a sound like nothing else out there. The twang and old school pop of the melody is like a 1993 Sheryl Crow crashing into the apocalyptic bombast of Guided by Voices, delivered in the context of Villalobos' voice, a voice rich in nuances, tone and color. She lays it plain the ways we self sabotage and cross our own paths with jinxes, and the song is a spell to break this.
In "Come Undone", grief is the baseline in which all forward movement takes place. The song is a romantic two-step in slow time to Heywood’s pedal steel that feels like a heartbreak ballad at first then builds to a swooning fugue state. A surprising celebration of knowing that only a run over heart is capable of holding the mysteries of mature love.
In “Wandering By” Villalobos effortlessly evokes imagery and mystery, with eloquence without pretension. “God is sucking up so fortify me some air / Figure it out, figure it out / And I’ll run my luck as fast as I can to silhouette lands, to silhouette lands”.
“I dream about making good work.” states Villalobos, “ I’m inspired by interactions, touching things, smelling things, and just opening my eyes. It’s involuntary and then you get these urges to be creative, to write. Having a creative urge as an artist is actually painful sometimes. Writing songs satisfies the urge.”