Lawson Rollins


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On his splendidly exotic, infectiously melodic, and grooving second recording since his days as part of the popular flamenco duo Young & Rollins, the charming and charismatic guitarist goes on another inviting journey full of all the exciting rhythmic possibilities the world offers -- high energy and supercharged at times, balanced nicely by sensual flows here and there. He's holding his trademark acoustic guitar on the CD cover, but mixes up that vibe with sharp, Santana-like electric edges on tracks like the searing midtempo ballad "Blue Mountain Bolero," which also features Charlie Bisharat's gleefully dancing violin. The goal (easily achieved) seems to be a literal travelogue, as Rollins fully captures the stunning exotica and indigenous vibes of styles and locales captured by track titles like "Return to Rio" (a graceful, low-key samba rendered even more authentic by the presence of Airto Moreira and Flora Purim), "Havana Heat" (simmering with the guitar duality provided by project producer Shahin Shahida on electric and slide guitar), "Santa Lucia Waltz" (dance-romance, anyone?), and "Cape Town Sky." This extraordinary musical trip wraps with a dramatic set called "The Caravan Trilogy," which features a contemplative "Migration" followed by a meditational, easy-rolling side trip to "Shadowland" and trippy, rock-edged emergence "Into the Light." It seems almost superfluous to say, but this nonstop engaging festival on disc is overloaded with the glorious spirit its title refers to.

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