Bill MacPherson

Coconut Juju

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Few worldbeat guitarists are more combustible than Bill MacPherson, who honed his African stylings early on while living as a child in Zaire. His solo efforts have been revelations to the genre, but have stuck mostly to the primal callings of that continent. As half of a duo with Dave Blackburn here, however, MacPherson expands his world to include grittier rock and soul elements as well as just what we might expect -- tropical delights no less refreshing than an afternoon poolside chug-a-lugging mai tais. Traveling on this muscular vacation, he touches on loping reggae and floats the rapids on pieces like "Flight of the Pelican," but digs into shadier emotions more often than not. And yet he never completely abandons the sunny, playful veneer of the album cover. While it's more MacPherson's showcase, Blackburn's keyboards and synth horn touches lay a find groundwork. Also making noteworthy contributions to the exotic mix are hardworking percussionist Jason Hann, longtime MacPherson cohort Nee Sackey on bass, and the foamy Robbie Hutchinson doing the Andy Narell thing on the pans.