Photos: Sofia Bolt at Zebulon

Sofia Bolt at Zebulon, July 22, 2019. Photo by S.Lo

L.A.-based Parisian singer-songwriter Sofia Bolt (née Amélie Rousseaux) triumphed with her West Coast rock ’n’ roll dreams on Monday, celebrating the release of her debut album, “Waves,” out now via Loantaka Records, at her headlining show at Zebulon. The pull between the two cities provided the tinder for much of the seething angst that lays under Bolt’s cool demeanor on the songs. Played live, with Bolt on guitar and vocals, Emily Elhaj on bass and Jesse Quebbeman-Turley filling in on drums (while Marian Li-Pino is on tour with Sasami), the songs take on a new dimension of steam and anguish, all balanced by a French pop sweetness. At times leading energetic jams and at others playing the contemplative chanteuse, Bolt shredded and grooved through the set, at one with her Fender Strat. With minimal chatter, she premiered a new song in French early on. Later, she said, “Thank you all for coming tonight, It’s our first album… Thank you, Loantaka Records,” with the audience wrapped around her finger.

Composer Van Dyke Parks and his jazz-inflected band gave a rousing performance preceding Bolt. Having composed the string arrangements for her album’s title single, “Waves,” he started with a push of encouragement for all to buy the album and addressed some news of the day. “We’re honored to be here to celebrate the debut album for Sofia Bolt,” said Parks, “In the age of streaming, this anomaly of a debut. An album. Please buy and support the album … and get that square out of the Oval Office as soon as you can!” In context of the latter encouragement, Parks shared throughout his set about his personal experiences growing up in Mississippi — the courage of his mother standing up against racism in their home, being “raised in an African nursery in the South” and issuing a demand for all, “I want all of you to take the right side of history.” Acknowledging the wide spectrum of ages at the show (due in large part to his appearance), Parks said he loved “the trans-generational stuff. As if we’re not fucking up the planet for them!” Towards the end of his set, he mentioned the oft-quoted Bible verse, “To much is given, much is expected,” before launching into “FDR to Trinidad.”

Dustrider (the Pavo Pavo offshoot by Oliver Hill) opened with shimmery sweet melodies and an assortment of accompaniments to Hill’s voice, from a full band to just beats on a drum machine with his guitar to violin. A lighthearted moment came mid-set when he said, “Part of the goal of the project is to be more direct, transparency in the lyrics.” Then he asked if anyone had a guitar pick, continuing, “Just gotta be honest. Don’t have to be superman,” bringing chuckles to the audience. A highlight for all ages in the crowd was a cover of the Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset.”

Photos by S.Lo