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It’s hard to tell if cellist and singer/songwriter Ben Sollee wrote this song for this video or made the video ever so perfectly for this song. “Pieces of You,” the first tease of new music since last fall’s Infowars, opens with a soft strumming on he cello’s four strings. Sollee alternates between plucking and bowing between verses and choruses, building another sweet folk-pop song for which he has become recognized and beloved.
But Sollee also has a reputation for imbuing his work with deeper meanings, social commentary and activism. Lyrically, “Pieces of You” delves into the relationship between the physical, metaphorical and spiritual reminders of relationships. Sollee highlights minutia in nostalgia, from old trophies and phones to Christmas lights and a bottle of wine as he sings, “Some people just see a pile of junk / they don’t know that it’s pieces of you.”
The video itself features Louis Zoellar Bickett II, a friend of Sollee’s who is currently battling ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease. Bickett, a conceptual artist, has catalogued hundreds of items from his life and presented them as a 3-D, real-life encapsulation of human existence in his project called THE ARCHIVE. In the video for “Pieces of You,” which was filmed at the Andrew Edlin Gallery in New York City, the cinematographer plays with extreme focus and blur techniques to direct attention to specific items—a pair of shoes, some old photos, jars of water from travels and more. Like Sollee intones, without knowing the story, it could all just amount to a pile a junk. But knowing about Bickett’s disease, his fight and his creative vision to help battle the darkness of mortality, together these old things represent pieces of the man and the artist, himself.
“Pieces of You” will appear on Sollee’s new album, Ben Sollee and Kentucky Native, which is due out August 11. Settle in for an emotional four minutes and watch the exclusive premiere of “Pieces of You” below.