Maybe it’s inexperience, but I use solo a fair amount. I often like to choose my starting frequency for EQ cut/boost in solo, and then figure out the amount of boost or cut in the context of the mix. For Fx too, I will almost always start in solo to line up the effect with what I’m hearing in my head... I think the horror stories about using solo come from early experiences of ‘chasing your tail’ where you try to make each instrument sound awesome in solo. You need to be aware when you’re losing that big picture context. Lately I’ve been writing in the studio, and definitely have been finding that having a vocal (even if it’s a gibberish scratch vocal) helps anchor the rest of the parts, and prevents over-playing. I’m definitely down with the idea of getting as much of the tracks recorded live “off the floor” as possible. Sometimes magic happens!