Lawrence Blatt: The Color of Sunshine (2009)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
The magical ability of music, not just to entertain the senses but to touch the auditory nerves and to trigger a flood of emotions, has never been in doubt. Some music can lay claim to unlocking the mysterious ingredients that strike such subliminal chords. To do it with unabashed grace is also rare. Somehow Lawrence Blatt found this and brings it to the fore on The Color of Sunshine.
Of course, it helps that Blatt is a virtuoso finger-style guitarist. His hypnotic music, produced here by William Ackerman, resonates with myriad hidden moods that continue to unlock as he plucks his way through the sometimes dense melodies. He can evoke a dusty outback like rhythmic rambling of tumbleweed and the whispering of dry sagebrush that reflects unadulterated light. Visual imagery of young, spritely cornfields spring to mind, as do barren salt flats and tropical splendor, emblazoned with splashes of color, buzzing with wondrous tones.
Songs such as "Orange Blossom Honey," "Jaune" and "Green Corn and Spring" evoke vivid pictures in spite of their seemingly prosaic titles. But then the musicsome times simplistic, and at others complex and layered with multiple harmoniesis often rich in tonal beauty. This is something of a cross between the experience of Bela Fleck and often recalls guitarist/songwriter Robbie Robertson, whose later music was closely associated with his Native (First Nations) culture.
Other songs, while conjuring up refreshing images, also work in terms of the ironic comment that comes through in this startling music. Works such as "Alhambra" are a constant reminder of the beauty of a place in time, when a melding of European and Moorish cultures created an abundance of rich art. "Mar Azul," with its swinging Afro-Caribbean rhythm, works wonderfully because of the empathetically expert work of violinist, Steve Schuch and the accordion and supporting guitar of T-Bone Wolk. And, of course, guitarist William Ackerman is outstanding on both "The Color of Sunshine" and "Reach for the Rainbow."
Much of the frieze-like beauty contained in this album comes from the melodies and harmonies that radiate from within the music. That Blatt's music is guileless, completely evocative, and refreshingly opposite of some super-polished, over-produced so-called "world music" recordings, is why The Color of Sunshine works on many levels, most of which reflect a deep sense of spirituality.
Track Listing: Look to the Sun; The Color of Sunshine; Gray Salt Marsh; Infrared: The Abyss; Alhambra (The Red); Orange Blossom Honey; Jaune (Yellow); Green Corn and Spring; Mar Azul; Violet Blue; UV Radiations; Black Rock Beach; White Light; Reach for the Rainbow.
Personnel: Lawrence Blatt: EVD custom steel-string guitar, Froggy Bottom baritone guitar, Furch Stanford acoustic guitar, Tacoma Thunderhawk baritone guitar, EVD nylon string guitar, Wingert Parlor guitar, acoustic bass, Gomez charanga, Island concert Koa Ukulele, Kamaka baritone ukulele, piano, Hopi drum and percussion; William Ackerman: Klein M43 guitar, wind chimes, hand claps, vocals; Jeff Oster: flugelhorn; T-Bone Wolk: Gibson Ripper L9-S bass, Martin D-18 (slide guitar), accordion; Steve Schuch: violin; Derrick Jordan: percussion, shaker, hand claps; Corin Nelson: piano, Tingsha Bell; Patrick Gorman: drums; Kori Linae Carothers: piano; Renata Bratt: cello; Zack Blatt: beatbox; Raymond Rapozo: Hawaiian ukulele; Noah Wilding: vocals.
Record Label: Self Produced