2011 / Infinita Records
Review by Michael Debbage
Three releases in four years is an incredible pace for any artist to create musical projects that one can only expect there to be diminishing returns. Not in the case of guitarist Lawson Rollins whose creative juices continues to endlessly flow on Elevation like the Mississippi river wandering and meandering through a sea of musical states. The musical cultures touched upon include but are not limited to the exotic Spanish, Middle East, Indian and African ethnicities resulting in yet another impressive musical exploration from the North Carolina native San Francisco resident.
Once again Rollins relies on the production team of Shahin Shahida and Dominic Camardell along with his own personal assist. Many of his musical friends also revisit though new guests are also present most notably via the more Western instrumentation of Jim Hoke on the pedal steel guitar giving “Daybreak” a Mark Knopfler/Dire Straits quality to it. There is also the more commercial and progressive effort courtesy of the closing track “Ghosts Of Alcazar” that features rock’s unusual character Buckethead on the electric guitar battling it out with Rollins. This is an intriguing and enthralling musical battle encompassed within the structure of the song. Buckethead is also featured on “Slow Ascent” and also appears on the title track.
Prior to that there is the very optimistic and buoyant “Santa Barbara Song” that is driven by Rollins’ fluid and flirtatious guitar work thoroughly complimented by Jeff Elliot’s trumpet and Dominic Camardella’s Wurlitzer electric piano instrumentation. Elements of jazz give this breezy folksy composition an underlying and tantalizing seductive quality. Though a slower pace, similar results can be found on “Francisco’s Dance”. Meanwhile, “The Diamond Path” and its swirling sitars and exotic instrumentation will carry you away to the mysterious lands of India.
Once again, Rollins presents his listeners with another album chockablock full of convincing compositions with absolutely no filler. And despite releasing three albums in four years, Rollins continues to elevate his game making Elevation not only a great album title but a terrific way in effectively describing his musical attitude, altitude and aptitude.
January 8, 2012