Fernando Silverio Solis instinctively understands the rate of change.
The Flint indie-folk singer-songwriter and guitarist aptly evolves and shifts with changing relationships on his latest introspective EP, When the Good Starts to Fade.
“With this group of songs, there are definitely some huge life changes taking place. You’re arriving at a different point whether it’s literally or figuratively and are unsure where to go from there,” Solis said.
“There’s a big theme around friendships … you have to acknowledge that sometimes you outgrow people or maybe they outgrow you.”
Those keen observations thoughtfully address past connections and anticipate future ones across three astute tracks. For Solis, When the Good Starts to Fade acknowledges the nuances and notions that slowly arise as one chapter ends and another begins.
“A lot of times I compartmentalize these ideas, thoughts and processes into a time when I can finally let it out,” he said. “After the songs are written, it’s almost therapy in a way … you don’t always know that you feel or think a certain way about something until you are given that space to say it freely.”
When the Good Starts to Fade
As the inquisitive, brisk opener for When the Good Starts to Fade, “Are You Happy Here?” prompts Solis to freely examine his current path and reconsider the road ahead.
An epiphanous force of ricocheting cymbals, thumping drums, fearless bass, determined acoustic guitar and confident electric guitar unlock hidden truths about life and love.
He sings, “Always feel like I’m visiting/So happy to be here and so anxious to leave/Never felt so far away from home/It’s not always the places, but the people you know.”
“In the moment that song was done, I could say, ‘Wow, this is me asking someone, are you happy here?’ And later on realizing the concern was there, but in reality, I was asking myself, ‘Am I happy here?’” said Solis, who wrote the track in 2019.
“I did not realize that until this year when I was getting ready to release it because so much time had passed when that song was written and when it was taken into the studio.”
After completing his “Are You Happy Here?” soul-searching journey, Solis detects the early signs of a relationship’s demise on the melancholic title track. Pensive acoustic guitar, somber pedal steel and hopeful banjo echo his growing acceptance and despondency.
He sings, “Now the city is haunted with ghosts of what we just couldn’t be/I always knew you were better than me/And I know in time your memory will fade/It slowly bleeds out until we’re strangers one day.”
“For ‘When the Good Starts to Fade,’ that’s the weird spot in any kind of relationship when you start to notice it’s different, and you’re just not sure how to come to terms with that. I think there’s that point where you know something’s over, but you don’t really want to let it go,” Solis said.
“There are some relationships or friendships that have changed, and sometimes you don’t really have an explanation. You can’t really be mad at the current person in front of you because they’re only telling you what they want or what they need, and you have to respect those things.”
Solis tackles additional friendship challenges on the contemplative, folk-rock ballad, “Happy New Year.” Glistening cymbals, easygoing drums, radiant electric guitar, ruminative acoustic guitar, breezy bass and tranquil organ provide newfound closure.
He sings, “These conversations that we’re having/They tell me some things will always stay the same/So pack your suitcase, small-town famous/You don’t have to leave, but I won’t die this way.”
“I had a really close friend for a long time, and he taught me so much about music. We were partners in everything we did creatively. At one point, we started to lose touch, and I think maybe it began with creative differences and maybe where our individual adult lives were going,” said Solis, who’s inspired by The Suicide Machines, Less Than Jake, Mustard Plug and Flogging Molly.
“It’s such a bummer; I miss him a lot. I wish he would still stay in contact, but I think he’s probably happier at the end of the day. He’s one of those people who could really go somewhere, and I was lucky to have worked with him.”
A Trilogy of EPs
Luckily, Solis worked with a talented team, including multi-instrumentalist and producer Nick Diener, drummer Jonathan Diener and pedal steel guitarist Jy-Perry Banks, to assemble three tracks for When the Good Starts to Fade and four additional tracks for two upcoming EPs.
“I don’t want to put everything out together all at once. I think they can tell their own story in short, compacted versions. But in reality, it’s all part of a full-on timeline. I like the idea of breaking them up into sections and saying, ‘OK, these are related, and this is a time frame,’” said Solis, who opted to release a trilogy of new EPs instead of a full-length album.
“That’s what it was like for me when I put some of these songs together. Not every single song was written in the same time frame. The ones that are on this first EP were definitely written earlier on because I remember playing ‘Are You Happy Here?’ in 2019 at a show … and the other ones were written a little bit later on.”
As a next step, Solis and the Diener brothers recorded the tracks together at Chesaning’s Oneder Studios and collaborated remotely with Banks, who’s based in Brisbane, Australia.
“We booked some days, went in there and cranked some tracks out,” he said. “Nick gets my vision so much, and he finds the sounds and the instrumentation that I knew I wanted, but didn’t know how to say or pick up and play.”
Meanwhile, Solis demonstrates his instrumental prowess on a new live acoustic video for “When the Good Starts to Fade.” Recorded at Dogtown Studio in Grand Rapids, it features him performing an intimate version of the track in a dimly lit room.
“You get into a groove with writing and presentation and how you want to express the song,” Solis said. “You can write a song, and that’s great, but then how do you want to give it to someone? How do you want to perform on stage with these songs?”
Looking ahead, Solis will continue sharing his catalog of songs with live audiences, including July 15 at Flint’s Porchfest and July 30 at Lansing’s The Avenue Café. He also will release his next two EPs, Somebody That You Keep Around and All Your Favorite Haunts, in July and September, respectively.
“Before the summer ends, I want to get into the studio because I already have a good amount of other songs. That’s a goal of mine; I don’t ever want to stop having stuff in the studio on deck and ready to go,” Solis said.
“At the end of the day, it’s a very challenging thing to stay relevant and really hold an audience. I don’t know what the game plan should or should not be … I’m trying to do a little bit of everything.”