Lawson Rollins | Rise Review
Guitarist Lawson Rollins has been described by Acoustic Guitar Magazine as ‘impeccable’ and ‘dazzling.’ At the same time, the prestigious Guitar Player Magazine ranks Rollins as one of the “50 Transcendent Acoustic Guitarists” of all time and writes, “Lawson Rollins is a bona fide star…The key to Rollins’ mass appeal is his signature artistic balance between classically influenced compositional refinement, infectious exotic rhythms, and the unbridled intensity of full-on shred.” Rollins is releasing RISE, a bold collection of ten original songs that showcase his signature virtuoso guitar style and eclectic compositional flair for melody and rhythm. He is joined by Haitian vocalist Jeff Pierre, saxophonist Mary Fettig, and Grammy-winning violinists Charlie Bisharat and Mads Tolling on several tracks while deepening his connection with regular bandmates Stephen Duros, Davo Bryant, and Dan Feiszli throughout the album. Each song finds Lawson rising to his peak abilities as a guitarist and composer. Lawson states, “This album was forged during the unprecedented difficulties the world has seen over the past year, but as the Latin motto “Ad Astra Per Aspera” proclaims, we can reach the stars through difficulty. It is in that spirit that this album was made.”
“Free to Fly” has a funky island feel, with Rollins’ acoustic guitar being augmented by light vocals and saxophone. The song is diverse in its orchestration and colors with added electric guitar parts, like wah-wah and funky strumming. Rollins’ technique is flawless as he navigates the guitar with ease and fluidity. Though he can play fast and technical, he always balances melody with flash for a profound listening experience.
“Escalate” showcases Rollins flamenco influences and excellent right-hand fingerstyle ability. Rollins builds the song over a simple harmonic progression with percussion, bass, and various guitar parts. The focus here is on the feel, beautiful tone, and Rollins exciting guitar playing. Rollins continues to balance technique with style and melody. This permits the song to grow and breath with activity and space in a very pure fashion.
RISE offers a timeless survey of Rollins’ guitar playing songwriting through multiple indelible songs. His romantic guitar playing focuses on an ambitious virtuosic style that is also balanced with melody and space. RISE consists of music performed with a beautiful rhythm section, and the playing is spiritual, visionary, and interconnected. RISE is recommended to newcomers to Rollins works and also his tried and true fans. There is something for everyone on RISE.
September 17, 2021