2010 / Infinita Records
Review by Michael Debbage
It was only two years ago when Lawson Rollins sprung his impressive and critically praised debut Infinita on the general listening public. This must have put some pressure on what to do next, but Espirito shows no signs of the dreaded sophomore slump by avoiding the attempt to fix what is not broken. Though with a little further musical exploration, Lawson keeps the musical quality fresh.
Espirito maintains the production team of Shahin Shahida and Dominic Camardell with Rollins assisting. That said, all thirteen compositions are self-penned. Once again, Lawson is musically all over the map, migrating and integrating flamenco, Bossa Nova, samba, salsa, and jazz genres creating his own intoxicating musical voice. This is best encapsulated by the buoyant and optimistic title track that represents the merger of all the above genres. The jazzy saxophones and clarinets of Richard Hardy and Justin Claveria, along with the vocal chants of Flora Purim and Diana Booker are in complete synchronicity with the soul and sway of Rollins guitar work.
One of the albums finest moments comes courtesy of the highly melodic “Santa Lucia Waltz” that also features the violin and cello work of Charlie Bisharat and Cameron Stone respectively. If this more reserved approach is appreciated then the solitary stripped down “Footprints” will leave you thirsty for more of Lawson’s introspective expressions. This is a perfect opportunity for you as a listener to catch your breath before you take on his tour de force courtesy of “The Caravan Trilogy”. Clocking in at over seventeen minutes, the three movements of “Migration”, “Shadowland” and “Into The Light” have global implications that represent the entire essence of Rollins musical world.
With none of the remaining balance of the songs showing any resemblance of a weak link, Espirito is an album that truly expresses a global musical landscape of what World Music should be all about. And it is delivered with an authenticity that one would not expect from a North Carolina native/San Francisco resident. From that aspect, Rollins continues to separate himself from his peers creating a unique musical tapestry of his own that shines ever so brightly.
May 15, 2010