For the last ten years, Simon Petty’s husky vocals led the Los Angeles based English quartet Minibar. On indefinite hiatus after the release of Desert After Rain, Petty turns to The Sea, The Sea for his solo debut as Solomon’s Seal. Produced by Seth Rothschild, the disc will be released on June 2, 2009 independently and celebrated with a CD release show at Largo on Saturday, May 30.

The signature dusty Americana of Minibar has given way to a sound more in the English folk tradition of Nick Drake and John Martyn. Rothschild’s production is beautifully sparse, allowing the finger-picked guitar and wistful vocals to shine.

Petty adopted the moniker Solomon’s Seal, a member of the lily family that was believed to have healing characteristics. The name’s origins come from the Seal of Solomon, an enigmatic symbol used in ancient Islam to ward off evil spirits that then became, of all things, the Star of David.

Full of such paradoxical imagery, The Sea, The Sea is a cathartic release for Petty. The disc takes its title from the Iris Murdock book about the strange obsessions that haunt a playwright and director as he withdraws from the world to a house by the sea to write his memoirs. Much like the novel’s protagonist, Petty finds the sea, “a soulful place, a place of healing that I find myself returning to.” Throughout the eleven tracks, “subconsciously it became a recurring theme,” he explains.

Inspired by a midnight swim, “Diamond In The Sand” describes two lovers looking for a lost ring at the bottom of the ocean. “I Built a Fire” begins “I’m lying wide open on the high tide line, left by the ocean, abandoned by the tide…”, as if the singer were just driftwood on the shore. In one song, Petty describes his life as being lived “on a part of the river that flows away from the sea”, all of which adheres to a common thread of searching for redemption and resolution by taking the path less traveled.

Solomon’s Seal has a standing Saturday night residency at Largo, the last Saturday of each month, next on March 28, then April 25 and the CD release show on May 30.

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