Ben Sollee Releases “When You Gonna Learn”

Article Contributed by Big Hassle Media | Published on Sunday, June 23, 2024

Kentucky musician Ben Sollee today shares “When You Gonna Learn” from his upcoming album Long Haul. The album, his first solo studio effort in seven years, comes out August 16 via sonaBlast! Recordings. On the album, Sollee draws from diverse influences, from nearby Appalachia and Muscle Shoals (he lives in Kentucky) to the exotic music from Polynesia and West Africa. These influences all meet with Sollee’s cello and vocals to create a wonderfully textured album, something akin to Paul Simon’s Graceland.


The album title, Long Haul refers to Sollee’s battle with long COVID, which left him with severe fatigue, body pain, cognitive impairment, vertigo, loss of smell and taste, and a deep well of anxiety and depression. Through a change in diet and exercise Sollee was able to overcome these symptoms. “I believe there is an innate intelligence within us that can serve as a compass in life,” Sollee says, “It is subtle, uncanny, and often ignored in the noise of living. Just like music, you need to tune yourself to the frequency of that inner-voice. In many ways, long-COVID was my teacher and I’m still learning to let go, be present, and listen.”

On top of the battle with COVID, Sollee lost many people close to him during the pandemic. He sadly lost his mentor Jon Rieger, his father Bob Sollee, and his long-time musical partner Jordon Ellis. But all this sadness and tragedy presented Sollee with opportunities for reflection and growth, which in turn gives Long Haul a sense of buoyancy, a feeling of rising out of a depth of seven years of despair.

In recording the album, Sollee used the mantra “show our fingerprints,” a concept he read in New York Times’ tech reporter Kevin Roose’s book Futureproof. For the album, Sollee chose to use breathy woodwinds, choirs, tactile hand percussion, and his signature cello to make the album sound more human. But this is not to say he is a luddite; he recorded a special Dolby ATMOS Spatial Audio version of the album (a first for Sollee).

Although Long Haul marks his first album in seven years, Sollee has been keeping busy. On top of fighting COVID and raising a family, he has been scoring films such as LAND from director Robin Wright, and Maggie Moore(s), a John Slattery film featuring Tina Fey and Jon Hamm, as well as providing the score to the Peabody-nominated podcast Unreformed. He has also worked further on charity work and community-building by launching Canopy, a non-profit organization that supports Kentucky businesses who positively impact their communities and the planet.

Below are upcoming tour dates for Ben Sollee more dates to be added:

August 15-16 – Bike Walk Kentucky 2024 Summit (Keynote speaker) – Lexington, KY

September 21 – Americana Music Festival – Nashville, TN

September 24 – Lovett Auditorium – Murray, KY (with the Louisville, Orchestra)

September 25 – Christian County High School Gym – Hopkinsville, KY (with Louisville Orchestra)

September 26 – Preston Arts Center – Henderson, KY

About Ben Sollee: Over the last two decades, Kentuckian Ben Sollee has distinguished himself as multi-faceted creative, blurring the lines between music, tech, and activism. A graduate of the University of Louisville School of Music, he holds a BFA in cello performance. Since his debut record in 2008, Mr. Sollee has released 6 studio records and nearly 10 EPs garnering praise from the New York Times and NPR. His music has been featured in tv shows such as Weeds and Parenthood. In addition, Sollee has a growing career as a composer for film, tv, and interactive media earning an Emmy Award in 2018 for his score on the ABC special Base Ballet. Beyond music, Sollee is known for his social and environmental advocacy work with organizations like Oxfam America, The Nature Conservancy, and Canopy KY to protect people and the land. He is also known for touring in the past on bicycle as part of his Ditch The Van Tours. He currently lives in Louisville, KY with his wife and three children.